Tool Training

The Dilemma Game: Professionalism and Integrity in Research

Uploaded by RRI Tools on 23 July 2018

This dilemma game was developed as one of the initiatives of the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) Taskforce Scientific Integrity

Like in any profession, scientists are frequently faced with dilemmas: Can I exclude particular observations from my research? Can I use exactly the same data set for multiple papers? Should I agree on a colleague being a co-author on a paper to which she has not made a significant contribution?. By exposing you to such dilemmas in the context of a critical dialogue, this game aims to support you in further developing your own “moral compass”. This dilemma game was developed as one of the initiatives of the EUR Taskforce Scientific Integrity. The objective of the taskforce has been to raise awareness for and to develop proposals to help maintain scientific professionalism and integrity.

The game lets you consider, choose and defend (and possibly reconsider) alternative courses of action regarding a realistic dilemma regarding professionalism and integrity in research.

Participants will also come to appreciate the dilemmas that others are faced with, how they resolve them and the reasoning behind these solutions. The game encourages participants to discuss issues relating to professionalism and integrity, and to help one another to find solutions for their own dilemmas.

The game can be used in a variety of settings. It can be used in a course setting, for instance for a group of PhD students. Or it can be used in a research strategy meeting of a department or institute. Depending on the objectives, it may be used primarily as an exercise to let people exchange opinions and experiences, or also as a step towards defining more formally defined principles, on for instance co-authorship. Often, it may be very effective to let participants come up with their own dilemmas, after playing a number of dilemmas from the game. Whichever setting or objective, the game may be helpful in bringing attention to “The Netherlands Code of Conduct for Scientific Practice” (Association of Universities in the Netherlands, 2012), which is applicable to every university scientist in the Netherlands.

The 75 dilemmas included in the game have been collected through sessions at different EUR schools, and among researchers who use different research strategies and who are in different stages of their careers. In that way, we have aimed to develop a set of dilemmas that are relevant to a diverse population of researchers. While the dilemmas are based on actual cases, they should be recognizable and relevant to many researchers. Should you wish so, you can preselect a particular set of dilemmas to ‘play’, based on for instance a particular phase of the research process you want the discussions to focus on. 

We hope that the game, as one of many initiatives, may help foster more continuous awareness to dilemmas in research, and in particular stimulate a more open and critical discussion of our respective norms and behaviours.


The dilemma game can also be downloaded as an application on Android devices and iOS. The app has three modes: individual, group and lecture mode, allowing users to interact with the dilemma's in a variety of ways.



Related Resources