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Springer Nature's latest regional research integrity survey shows growing global pattern around researcher needs for data training

Publisher’s latest survey, focused on Japan, shows a high proportion of Japanese researchers have access to research integrity training and builds on results from previous surveys that highlight data training as the greatest unmet need.

Tokyo | London, May 24, 2024

Springer Nature’s latest national research integrity survey shows Japanese researchers lack support in data management, a trend reflected in the publisher’s other national integrity surveys. Whilst results showed that 73% of Japanese researchers have access to research integrity training, the highest proportion of researchers for any country surveyed so far, data training continues to make up a large proportion of the areas highlighted by respondents where more support is needed.*1 This included the need for more support around data management, such as data policies (35%), copyright and licencing (33%), data storage (30%), use and re-use and curation of data (29%).

The survey explored Japanese researchers’ understanding of research integrity and found that 62% of the respondents considered the definition set by the US National Institute of Health*2 reflected their own understanding either extremely or very well. The responses also showed that "Avoidance of misconduct" (30%) and the "Appropriate use of funds" (16%) were the two most important behaviours associated with research integrity.

Additional key findings of the research integrity training survey showed that:

  • For those who had access to training, 95% of the respondents reported that the training was mandatory. The majority of respondents from Japan agreed that training should be mandatory at some stage in a researcher’s career.
  • Nearly 80% of surveyed researchers felt that the training provided by their institutions was effective.
  • The majority of respondents in Japan (67%) told us that the training they were offered was exclusively online training with no involvement of a live instructor.

Satoshi Tanaka, Director of Research Environment Improvement, Japanese Association for the Advancement of Science (JAAS), commented on the survey as follows:

"The survey revealed that the e-learning participation rate for research integrity is extremely high, which is likely due to the mandatory requirement during applications for public competitive research funding. This suggests that Japanese researchers possess a high level of basic knowledge regarding research integrity. However, the proportion of respondents citing quality improvement in research and social responsibility as the significance of research integrity was low, indicating that a relatively high number of researchers have a passive attitude focused on avoiding misconduct. In future education and training on research integrity, it will be necessary to foster professionalism among researchers"

Speaking of the survey, Ed Gerstner, Director of Research Environment Alliances, Springer Nature, said:

“Our intention for these surveys is as a starting place to discuss how well-equipped researchers are to ensure the integrity of the research they produce. The surveys were launched following conversations we had with stakeholders in Australia and around the world, which suggested that we knew very little about how researchers are trained in research integrity and where they needed more support. We’ve been pleased to discover that the majority of researchers in Japan are offered - and indeed expected to take - some form of research integrity training. But, as is the case in other places we’ve conducted the survey, it is also clear that there is more that could be done, particularly with respect to training in open science practices such as the open sharing of data”

The need for more data training in the research integrity survey echoes the results from the 2023 State of Open Data survey, also conducted by Springer Nature in partnership with Digital Science, which found that only 10% of the respondents in Japan were familiar with the FAIR data principles,*3 and 24% of Japanese researchers appeared to be aware of data management plans, the lowest among all countries in the report.

Hiromitsu Urakami, Academic Engagement Director in Japan, Springer Nature added:

“For research data, our observations from both the integrity survey and data report, suggest that researchers may require support and learning opportunities as research communities adopt more open data practices, as well as a national mandate to deposit data associated with peer-reviewed research articles for selected grant schemes starting in the near future. We also found that researchers in Japan often associate research integrity with the prevention of misconduct, and while this is important, it should also be recognised as promotion of good practice, for research one can trust more and others to build on more effectively”

The research integrity training survey in Japan follows other regional surveys conducted, to date, in Australia (2022), UK and USA (2023), and forms part of a programme of outreach conducted by the publisher to explore what researchers know about research integrity and what training they have been provided with. The survey in Japan was conducted between December 2023 to February 2024, in partnership with JAAS (Japanese Association for the Advancement of Science). The survey report describes the survey results received from 1190 participants from more than 445 organisations throughout Japan.

The surveys are a key part of Springer Nature’s commitment to support good research practices globally by providing insights into research integrity training and open data.

*1  Data related training made up 4 out of the top 10 areas highlighted by respondents where more support was needed.

*2 The US National Institutes of Health defines research integrity as "the use of honest and verifiable methods in proposing, performing, and evaluating research and reporting research results with particular attention to adherence to rules, regulations, guidelines, and commonly accepted professional codes or norms."

*3 FAIR data are data, which meet principles of findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability (FAIR).

The research integrity survey results can be viewed in Figshare:


Notes to editors

Background for the initiation of the research integrity training survey

In 2019, Nature hosted a meeting of stakeholders from all parts of the Australian research community, to discuss research integrity and good research practices. One of the most striking outcomes of this meeting was the realisation of how little anyone knew about the level of understanding or training offered to researchers in research integrity. This led us to launch a series of surveys of researchers in different parts of the world to determine the level of understanding of research integrity and relevant training within the research community of each country surveyed.

Details of the state of open data survey:

Over 6,000 respondents globally, (313 from Japan)

State of open data survey report

Analysis on results from Japan, USA and Ethiopia can be found in the following report. "The Global Lens: Highlighting National Nuances in Researchers’ Attitudes Toward Open Data"
The State of Open Data April 2024

Further findings from the open data survey in Japan are as follows:

  • 15% responded full data citation as a motivation to share data.
  • 9% of the respondents think they receive credit for sharing data.
  • 14% strongly in support, and almost half (42%) in support of a national mandate for sharing data, meaning that the greater part of respondents were either neutral/opposed to a national mandate (58%), compared with almost two-thirds (64%) globally. These results suggest that researchers feel unprepared to fulfill the expectations that national mandates may require.
  • 20% responded that they would like more guidance from either the department/ faculty or publishers, on how to comply with policies around making research data openly available.
  • 64% of Japanese researchers reported that they would need moderate or extensive training to develop a practical data management plan if required to do so.

This survey provides useful insight into how to better support Japanese researchers going forward by focusing new training on specific needs, notably understanding policies for access, ownership, sharing and reuse of data, copyright/licensing of data storage and data management strategies.

Research data refers to the collection of files that support your research project, study or publication such as spreadsheets, documents, images, videos or audio.

About Japanese Association for the Advancement of Science (JAAS)

Japan Association for the Advancement of Science (JAAS) is a nonprofit organization established in February 2022 as an entity where people of all backgrounds can participate, with the goal of 'further energizing science in Japan.' While the importance of science is expected to increase in the future, there are numerous challenges to overcome for science to seamlessly integrate into society. Our mission is to create forums for dialogue and collaboration necessary to address these challenges.

About Springer Nature 

For over 180 years Springer Nature has been advancing discovery by providing the best possible service to the whole research community. We help researchers uncover new ideas, make sure all the research we publish is significant, robust and stands up to objective scrutiny, that it reaches all relevant audiences in the best possible format, and can be discovered, accessed, used, re-used and shared. We support librarians and institutions with innovations in technology and data; and provide quality publishing support to societies. 

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Ayako Miyazaki | Corporate Affairs | Springer Nature