Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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Biomedical doctoral students' research practices when facing dilemmas: two vignette-based randomized control trials

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-10-25, 10:43 authored by V T Nguyen, Melissa SharpMelissa Sharp, C Superchi, G Baron, K Glonti, D Blanco, M Olsen, T T Vo Tat, C Olarte Parra, A Névéol, D Hren, P Ravaud, I Boutron

Our aim was to describe the research practices of doctoral students facing a dilemma to research integrity and to assess the impact of inappropriate research environments, i.e. exposure to (a) a post-doctoral researcher who committed a Detrimental Research Practice (DRP) in a similar situation and (b) a supervisor who did not oppose the DRP. We conducted two 2-arm, parallel-group randomized controlled trials. We created 10 vignettes describing a realistic dilemma with two alternative courses of action (good practice versus DRP). 630 PhD students were randomized through an online system to a vignette (a) with (n = 151) or without (n = 164) exposure to a post-doctoral researcher; (b) with (n = 155) or without (n = 160) exposure to a supervisor. The primary outcome was a score from - 5 to + 5, where positive scores indicated the choice of DRP and negative scores indicated good practice. Overall, 37% of unexposed participants chose to commit DRP with important variation across vignettes (minimum 10%; maximum 66%). The mean difference [95%CI] was 0.17 [- 0.65 to 0.99;], p = 0.65 when exposed to the post-doctoral researcher, and 0.79 [- 0.38; 1.94], p = 0.16, when exposed to the supervisor. In conclusion, we did not find evidence of an impact of postdoctoral researchers and supervisors on student research practices.Trial registration: NCT04263805, NCT04263506 (registration date 11 February 2020). 


European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 676207

Center d’Epidémiologie Clinique APHP, Université Paris Cité



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Published Citation

Nguyen VT. et al. Biomedical doctoral students' research practices when facing dilemmas: two vignette-based randomized control trials. Sci Rep. 2023;13(1):16371.

Publication Date

29 September 2023

PubMed ID



  • School of Population Health
  • Public Health and Epidemiology


Nature Publishing Group


  • Published Version (Version of Record)