Project overview

Project leaders: Tamarinde Haven, Lex Bouter, Joeri Tijdink
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
January 2017 – January 2021


Lex Bouter

Joeri Tijdink

Tamarinde Haven

Steering group

Gerben ter Riet

Gerben ter Riet

Yvo Smulders

Yvo Smulders

René van Woudenberg

René van Woudenberg

Hanneke de Haes

Hanneke de Haes

F.J. Oort

F.J. Oort

Guy Widdershoven

Guy Widdershoven

What is Amsterdam’s Academic Research Climate?

ARCA is a research project that investigated research climate and integrity in the 4 academic institutions in Amsterdam. It was a part of the Templeton funded research project on Epistemic Responsibilities in the University (subproject 2). On this webpage, you can find all important information about the project, its outputs, more in-depth information of the research content and here you can find the full research protocol. ARCA has a main research team and a steering group, which includes researchers from the 4 participating institutions (University of Amsterdam, VU Amsterdam, and the Amsterdam University Medical Centers).

Main research question

The main research question of ARCA is:

“What do scientists of the four academic institutes in Amsterdam consider to be the salient aspects of the research climate of their institution that promote or hinder research integrity, and which do they believe to be the most important barriers to responsible conduct of research (RCR) and the most promising interventions to prevent research misbehaviour (RM) and questionable research practices (QRP)?”

The research question was addressed with quantitative research (web-based survey) and qualitative research (focus group interviews). Furthermore two pilot interventions were designed.


The motivation for carrying out the ARCA project was that there is little data on what motivates people to adhere to their integrity in academic research. The current idea is that three overall factors influence whether people misbehave in science: the individual (personality traits could be of influence here), the system (i.e. how we reward scientists, how funding works) and the culture/climate that researchers work in. This is where ARCA comes in.

It is becoming more and more evident that the climate researchers work in determines their ideas of what is “normal”, what is good science, what are misbehaviours, or whether they feel supported by their organisations. ARCA was one of the pioneering studies that looks at ways to foster responsible research practices by assessing the research climate. To do this, we gained insight into which determinants play a role in stimulating responsible conduct of research, but also which determinants fuel research misconduct or questionable research practices.

ARCA has aimed to provide a baseline measure of the academic research climate, which is needed if science wishes to improve itself. This is why all active researchers from the 4 academic institutions in Amsterdam received an invitation to fill out the ARCA survey. We collected researchers’ views on the organisational research climate they work in on a daily basis, the extent to which they experience publication pressure and how they view good science as well as detrimental research practices. The organisational research climate for integrity is an intricate concept, influenced by many factors. Key factors we study are the degree to which researchers are aware of integrity policies, whether they feel like their organisational leaders take integrity seriously, do they feel as if their department had set fair expectations for them regarding publishing and obtaining grants, among other things.

Of course, survey results are not the final answer. ARCA used mixed methods to get the best perspective the research culture in Amsterdam. Therefore, we used focus groups with a diverse population of researchers to collect in-depth perspectives and perceptions of current research climate. By means of focus group interviews we deepened our understanding of the survey results, being able to discuss the optimal research climate  with researchers. The outputs of these groups were also used for investigating which factors researchers themselves identify as promoting or hindering responsible conduct of research. Finally, two pilot interventions were designed, one relating to dilemma-based debates about research integrity dilemmas and the other a training for PhD supervisors on responsible mentoring.

The results of the ARCA project were published and bundled together in the PhD dissertation ‘Towards a Responsible Research Climate’ by Tamarinde Haven. Her dissertation was also send to many researchers in the academic community to possibly provide them more insight in their own climate. In the long term, we are hoping to use the results of the ARCA project o design effective interventions. You can read more about this in our protocol

The ARCA research project was endorsed by the AMC, UvA, VU and VUmc.

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The ARCA project has been finalized in December 2020. Here you can download the full PhD dissertation of Tamarinde Haven: Towards a Responsible Research Climate.  The PhD dissertation can also be viewed online through this link. Below you can find the separate publications and preprints.


Explaining variance in perceived research misbehavior – Results from a survey among academic researchers in AmsterdamDOI: 10.31222/


Researchers’ Perceptions of a Responsible Research Climate: A Multi Focus Group Study DOI: 10.1007/s11948-020-00256-8

Researchers’ perceptions of research misbehaviours: a mixed methods study among academic researchers in Amsterdam DOI: 10.1186/s41073-019-0081-7

Value pluralism in research integrity, DOI: 10.1186/s41073-019-0076-4

Perceived publication pressure in Amsterdam: Survey of all disciplinary fields and academic ranks DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217931

Revising the publication pressure questionnaire, DOI: 10.1186/s41073-019-0066-6

Perceptions of research integrity climate differ between academic ranks and disciplinary fields DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0210599

The ARCA project was part of a subproject of ‘The Epistemic Responsibilities of the University’ and publications of this project can be found in the database through the button below.

Go to publications