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Universities Denmark launches national principles for research collaboration with external partners

When university researchers collaborate on research projects with external partners, there must be no doubt about the rules of the game. This is the defining principle of Aarhus University’s ground rules for collaboration with external partners. Now Universities Denmark has defined a set of common principles for research collaboration that are in line with AU’s ground rules.

2021.02.10 | Henriette Stevnhøj

Studerende på Grundfos' stand

Universities Denmark have made principles for the universities' cooperation with external parties. The new principles match AU's own basic rules. Photo: Lars Kruse/AU.

Danish university have definitively shut the door on the ivory tower: Danish researchers are increasingly involved in research collaborations with businesses, government and organisations. To safeguard the credibility and impartiality of the results of these collaborations, Universities Denmark has just introduced a set of general recommendations and principles that have been developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education and Science. These recommendations and principles come on the heels of Aarhus University's Ground rules for responsible conduct of research and research freedom in regard to collaboration with external parties, which came into force in 2020, and the new national recommendations and principle draw on AU's ground rules.

AU’s ground rules have priority

However, researchers at AU will not need to follow a new set of rules: AU’s ground rules will remain in force, and AU researchers can continue to draw on them when initiating a new research collaboration with an external partner. The principles just released by Universities Denmark elaborate on some of the themes in AU’s ground rules, and can be treated as an underlying reference.

Both sets of guidelines set out the principles that should apply when a Danish university concludes a formal research collaboration with an external partner – for example, a partner that funds the research project. The aim of the guidelines is to provide both parties with a guide to understanding and defining their own roles and responsibilities throughout a research collaboration or in a situation in which researchers employed at a university provide science advice to external parties.

A common framework strengthens credibility

Rector Brian Bech Nielsen welcomes Universities Denmark’s new principles:

“Having common ground rules for collaboration between the university and an external party strengthens the credibility of university research. It sends a clear signal to society that the ground rules are the same, no matter what Danish university you collaborate with.”

Both AU’s rector and Universities Denmark stress that the principles and recommendations should be understood in the context of the practices that already apply in this area. These include theUniversity Act, The Danish code of conduct for research integrity,the General Data Protection Regulation and local standards and guidelines – for researchers at Aarhus University, the ground rules adopted in 2020.

Collaboration, Research, All groups, All AU units, Aarhus University