Definitions and practical information for honest research at the École des Ponts.

Scientific Integrity and ethics: definitions

In 2016, Pierre Corvol's report to the Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research set out the following definitions to distinguish between scientific integrity and research ethics:

A clear distinction must be made between scientific integrity, i. e. the rules that govern the practice of research, and research ethics, which deals more broadly with the major issues raised by scientific progress and its societal impacts. (...)

Scientific integrity is the upright and honest conduct that must prevail in all research. Consubstantial to any research activity, it is on integrity that knowledge is based. Scientific integrity is not a question of morals, but it is based on universal moral principles according to which it is wrong "to lie, to steal...". The quality and reliability of scientific production depend on it. It is on this basis that the knowledge-based society is based in order to, in a word, "believe in science". As much as ethical issues are debated, so much scientific integrity is not debatable. It is self-respecting, it is a code of professional conduct that must not be violated. It is imperative in science, as are professional codes of ethics for doctors and lawyers.

Open science: a trigger for scientific integrity

The openness and accessibility of all research outputs are the fundamental principles of honest research. This is also mentioned in the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity:

Objectivity requires facts capable of proof, and transparency in the handling of data. Researchers should be independent and impartial and communication with other researchers and with the public should be open and honest.

The Scholarly communication unit can be called upon by researchers in order to get support for the open access dissemination of their publications and also for assistance in writing a Data Management Plan and choosing the best repository to share their data.

Everything you need to know about Open Access and how to upload to HAL
Everything you need to know about research data and more particularly the legal background and technical questions
There are also other initiatives that contribute to the openness of science and honest research:
  • the publication of negative results (including the existence of journals dedicated to biology Negative results, Journal of Negative Results),
  • pre-registration (pre-declare your hypotheses and research protocol; see in particular this site),
  • Open peer-review (make public the names of reviewers, reports, exchanges, etc...).

The Research Integrity officer for the École des Ponts

In a 2017 circular (n° 2017-040) addressed to all higher education and research institutions on scientific integrity policy, the Ministry in charge of Research requested a series of practical measures, including the appointment of a research integrity officer. His missions are as follows:

If necessary, the referent shall receive a complaint or allegation of non-compliance in a non-anonymous manner and shall investigate it confidentially with the possible help of experts. The head of the school is informed.

Roger Frank ( is the research integrity officer for École des Ponts; for all research actors, he is the first person to contact both to ask a question about scientific integrity and to report a violation of the rules.


Training and information

The decree of 25 May 2016 establishing the national framework for training and the procedures leading to the award of the national doctoral diploma states in its article 3 that doctoral schools "shall ensure that each doctoral student receives training in research ethics and scientific integrity".

The Scholarly communication unit and the research integrity officer can come to the laboratories to talk about the subject, but for those who want a more complete training, there are 2 high-quality Moocs:

MOOC "Research Ethics" (University of Lyon, complementary to MOOC on scientific integrity at the University of Bordeaux)

For these 2 MOOCs, the participants can receive a follow-up certificate.


Questionable research practices

Questionable research practices can take many forms and have a more or less significant impact on the progress of science.

To be read: Anthony R. Artino; Erik W. Driessen; Lauren A. Maggio. 2018. Ethical Shades of Gray: International Frequency of Scientific Misconduct and Questionable Research Practices in Health Professions Education. Academic Medicine.
DOI : 10.1097/ACM.0000000000002412

Small breaches, high frequency

Add an author who has done nothing or agree to be an author when nothing has been done, cite unread articles or to please reviewers or to increase their citations, "salami slicing" (spread study results over more papers), consider an unexpected conclusion as a starting point, lack rigour in data storage and protection, use students as subjects of study and not report it.

Serious breaches, low frequency

Ask to be an author when you have done nothing, manipulate data until nonsignificant results become significant (p-hacking), pretend not to see that a colleague's data is biased, falsely claim to have used a method/technique, deliberately fail to report limitations, manipulate/delete/make data/figures, modify results, use "information" obtained as a reviewer for research, plagiarize/self-plagiarize, refuse to share data with collaborators, fail to cite (correctly) sources.



2010 - Rapport Alix - Renforcer l’intégrité de la recherche en France
2012 - Avis du Comité d’éthique du CNRS sur la nécessité d'une mise en place au CNRS de procédures en vue de promouvoir l’intégrité en recherche
2015 - The European Charter for Researchers
2015 - Charte nationale de déontologie des métiers de la recherche / French Charter for Research Integrity
2016 - Rapport Corvol - Bilan et propositions de mise en œuvre de la charte nationale d’intégrité scientifique
2016 - Arrêté du 25 mai 2016 fixant le cadre national de la formation et les modalités conduisant à la délivrance du diplôme national de doctorat
2016 - CNRS-CPU Guide - Integrity and responsibility in research practices
2017 - Opinion of the CNRS Ethics Committee - Ethical relfexion on plagiarism in scientific research
2017 - HCERES - Establishment of the French Office for Research Integrity - OFIS
2017 - Circulaire MENESR du 15 mars 2017 relative à la politique d’intégrité scientifique au sein des opérateurs de recherche
2017 - Vade-mecum intégrité scientifique de l’OFIS
2018 - Code de conduite européen pour l’intégrité en recherche / The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity
2019 - L’École des Ponts signe la Charte nationale de déontologie des métiers de la recherche