Horbach, Serge, MA

Novel challenges to scientific integrity

Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, s.horbach@science.ru.nl

Supervisors: Prof. Hub Zwart and Dr. Willem Halffman


I hold a Bachelor Degree and a Master Degree in mathematics, both obtained at the Radboud University. In my masters I followed the specialization ‘Science in Society’, in which I was introduced to societal aspects of science, including policy, science communication and ethics. Within this specialization I wrote my master thesis on scientific integrity, studying the development of the discourses on scientific integrity in the scientific and public domain.


Content In my PhD project I will continue and extend the work of my master thesis regarding scientific integrity, within the framework of the European PRINTEGER project. The project will consist of two parts. First it will study the concept of integrity, providing an overview of the discourses on integrity, both within the domain of science as well as within the public domain of policymakers and public media (newspapers). In addition, several in-depth case studies will be conducted to analyse how different actors become involved in individual cases of (alleged) misconduct. As part of this, the project will look deeper into specific (emerging) forms of breaches with scientific integrity, for example the problematic concept of ‘self-plagiarism’. It will address questions concerning the prevalence of these types of misconduct, their causes and reasons for differences in occurrence patterns.

In the second part of the project, the peer review system will be studied as one of the major self-regulating mechanisms fostering scientific integrity and preventing misconduct. Even though peer review is recognized as one of the central mechanisms to provide quality and reliability of research, it is suggested that it currently falls below standards. In my project I will identify the implemented mechanisms to improve the quality of peer review and evaluate their successfulness in detecting scientific misconduct. This will lead to recommendations on effective measures to improve the quality of peer review and its ability to detect misconduct, but it will also contribute to more fundamental debates on quality control, responsibility and authorship in science.


Horbach, S. (2015) Novel protocols in Group-based Cryptography. SURE, vol 1, no 1, Delft.

Horbach, S. & Halffman, W. (2016) Promoting virtue or punishing fraud: mapping contrasts in the language of ‘scientific integrity’. (submitted to Science and Engineering Ethics, under revision)