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Illustration of a crowd of people with the silhouette of a person touching their chin thoughtfully in the centre
Illustration of a crowd of people with the silhouette of a person touching their chin thoughtfully in the centre © Mirko Grisendi from Pixabay

Scoping Questionnaire on Research Culture

In January 2021, Science Europe launched a new activity on the Recognition Systems of Research. This activity builds on Science Europe’s long-standing work on Research Assessment. Recognising the broad nature of the term ‘Research Culture’, Science Europe set about to collect positions and perspectives of its Member Organisations through a scoping questionnaire as a preliminary step towards developing, with members, activities on the topic.

A starting point for collective reflections on Research Culture?

For the purposes of the initial scoping exercise, ‘Research Culture’ was taken to broadly encompass the values, behaviours, expectations, attitudes, and norms of any given research system (in line with the Royal Society definition

Questionnaire Findings

The Scoping Questionnaire on Research Culture was launch in late February 2021. By the end of April, 20 Science Europe Member Organisations had responded to the questionnaire, including both Research Funding and Research Performing Organisation representatives.

Definitions and positions on research culture

Question - Does your organisation have a working definition and/or position on research culture?

30% Yes
55% Partially
15% No
  • Yes
  • Partially
  • No


Over a quarter of responding organisations have a clear position on the topic of research culture. Further, over 50 % of responding organisations cover the topic partially through a myriad of associated activities. 

Of the organisations, that do not report having a position on the topic currently, all are planning to engage in the subject in the coming years. 

Perceptions of an ideal research culture

Question - Describe elements of an ideal culture of the national research system of which your organisation is a part?

Free text answers converted and collated into keyword groups:

  • Research Recognition
  • Dynamic
  • Equal Opportunities
  • Collaboration
  • Team Science
  • Ecosystem
  • Open
  • Open Data
  • Transparent
  • Principles
  • Safe Environment
  • Education
  • Infrastructure
  • Human Resources
  • Inclusivity
  • Early-career Researchers
  • Guidelines
  • Research Integrity
  • Research Assessment
  • Impact
  • Careful Resource Use
  • Diversity
  • Public Involvement
  • Trust
  • Broader Recognition
  • Scientific autonomy
  • Leadership
  • Ethics
  • Data Protection
  • Cross-border Collaboration
  • Societal Outreach
  • Negative/Neutral Results
  • Multi-​/Inter-​/Trans­disciplinarity
  • Research Evaluation
  • Methodology
  • Reproducibility
  • Policy Coherence
  • Students
  • Researcher Support
  • Open Access
  • Research Careers
  • Legislation
  • Good Research Practice
  • Excellence
  • Deontology
  • Open Science
  • Holistic
  • Values
  • Peer Review
  • Scientific Process
  • FAIR
  • Data Reuse
  • Public Involvement
  • Research Data
  • International
  • Knowledge Transfer
  • Quality
  • Standards


Responding organisations described a plethora of topics and subject matters when considering elements of an ideal research culture. Several common themes can be determined. An ideal culture should include:

  • Broader recognition of activities and roles that contribute to science.
  • Equal opportunities for all, and diverse involvement in all aspects of research.
  • Stronger synergies between research and society.
  • Promotion of varied career pathways for researchers and research-related positions.
  • Full integration of Open Science principles.
  • Greater emphasis on collaboration and team work.

The values of research systems

Question - How important are the following values as a component of a functioning and effective research system?

Reliability The obligation to follow appropriate methods or demonstrate that approaches taken produce trustworthy results.
100% Strongly Positive
0% Positive
0% Neutral
0% Not Applicable
Honesty Conducting and communicating research fully and without deception.
94% Strongly Positive
0% Positive
6% Neutral
0% Not Applicable
Objectivity Looking beyond preconceptions and biases in the determination of fact and empirical evidence.
94% Strongly Positive
0% Positive
0% Neutral
6% Not Applicable
Accountability The ability to demonstrate that results/statements can be justified, both to other researchers and broader society.
89% Strongly Positive
11% Positive
0% Neutral
0% Not Applicable
Fairness The need to treat others with respect and without bias or discrimination – whether it be through citations or mentoring and so on.
89% Strongly Positive
11% Positive
0% Neutral
0% Not Applicable
Openness The need for research to be available to others for examination and extension.
72% Strongly Positive
22% Positive
6% Neutral
0% Not Applicable
Originality Recognition and reward provided to those who first bring to light new knowledge.
61% Strongly Positive
33% Positive
6% Neutral
0% Not Applicable
Scepticism Maintaining a degree of scepticism towards results and conclusions.
44% Strongly Positive
39% Positive
6% Neutral
11% Not Applicable


The majority of values listed were agreed with and deemed ‘very important’ to the functioning of research systems. 

However, several values were deemed of only moderate or less importance by a number of responding organisations, these included: openness, originality, and scepticism.

Question - Are there other values that your organisation considers an important component of a functioning and effective research system?

Commonly referenced:

  • Collectivism / Collaboration
  • Inclusivity & Accessibility
  • Freedom & Autonomy of Research
  • Transparency

Driving changes to research culture

Question - Incentives to drive research culture change should come from which organisational levels?

Research Performing Organisations
100% Highly Responsible
0% Moderately Responsible
0% Somewhat Responsible
0% Not Responsible
84% Highly Responsible
11% Moderately Responsible
5% Somewhat Responsible
0% Not Responsible
Research Funding Organisations
79% Highly Responsible
21% Moderately Responsible
0% Somewhat Responsible
0% Not Responsible
Decision makers/ Governance
69% Highly Responsible
26% Moderately Responsible
5% Somewhat Responsible
0% Not Responsible
Research Publishers
21% Highly Responsible
42% Moderately Responsible
32% Somewhat Responsible
5% Not Responsible


When asked at which level(s) incentives to drive changes research culture should come, there was broad agreement that collective and concerted action across many stakeholder groups is needed.

More specifically, respondents highlighted the importance of bottom-up initiatives from researcher performing organisations and researchers in driving culture change, whilst also recognising the need for initiatives and support from funding organisations and governance.

The roles of research organisations and Science Europe

Question - Describe the role that your organisation currently plays in the discourse on research culture.

Common themes (mentioned by >10% of respondents):

  • Gathering evidence
  • Participating in stakeholder forums/initiatives
  • Coordinating policy initiatives with other organisations
  • Providing financial support
  • Pioneering policies
  • Establishing Working Groups
  • Providing leadership
  • Leading and promoting collaboration between stakeholders
  • Setting standards
  • Raising awareness
  • Communicating on policies and practices


  • Science Europe Member Organisations lead, initiate, promote, and participate in forums and initiatives on areas of relevance to research culture (DORA often cited). In doing so, they engage with other stakeholder groups as an important component of promoting change.
  • Science Europe Member Organisations develop and pioneer policies, and continually monitor and evaluate them, to promote change. Policy initiatives are often seen as standard setting, and organisations share knowledge with amongst one-another to promote coordinated approaches.
  • Science Europe Member Organisations provide financial support to initiatives associated with the topic of research culture, and engage in communication and awareness raising on the subject.

Question - Describe what you think the role of Science Europe should be in relation to research culture.

  • Providing international context
  • Advocating priorities at EU level
  • Promoting cross-border collaboration and international mobility
  • Providing a forum for discussion and knowledge sharing
  • Developing collective principles, joint frameworks, shared tools
  • Aligning and synthesising national initiatives
  • Facilitating exchange of good practices
  • Gathering evidence
  • Maintaining a holistic view of the topic
  • Collecting and sharing policies and practices from different stakeholder groups and sectors
  • Facilitating engagement with other stakeholder groups
  • Raising awareness


  • Science Europe should provide a forum for members to discuss and share knowledge around the topic of research culture.
  • Science Europe should collect and facilitate the exchange of (good) policies and practices amongst members, and also more broadly with other stakeholder groups.
  • Science Europe should develop, maintain, and provide members with a holistic overview of the topic of research culture and provide an international context to discussions and developments.
  • Science Europe should gather knowledge, discuss and develop collective principles, and raise awareness around the subject.