Quality assurance

The Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO), as well as the rest of the University of Copenhagen (UCPH), is based on the Universities Denmark's White Paper on research-based public-sector services 2009. As for sector-related research and research-based consultancy, it is subject to the same principles as any other research at the University of Copenhagen, and thus a requirement for sound, documentable project management, transparent academic peer-review processes, documentation, reproducibility, data security and safety of analytical procedures, accountability, transparency of authorship and a number of other things, cf. Danish Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. In line with the above-mentioned basis for public-sector consultancy, sector research and quality assurance, IFRO emphasises, that the performance of public-sector tasks and other consultancy should not take place in a way that may raise doubts about the department's academic integrity and the quality of the researchers' work.

IFRO ensures this in several ways:

  • By ensuring the framework for the ongoing knowledge acquisition and by development of the model contingency required for the quality of the performance of the work,
  • by ensuring the organisational and administrative conditions necessary to achieve high quality in project management and financial and resource management, 
  • by communicating these things between the client/ordering authority and the executing researchers.

Central to both the process and the academic quality assurance is, that all significant agreements on the assignment must be made in writing before the assignment is initiated. This includes when the task is considered complete/resolved and when the end product can be published.

The academic quality assurance also applies to the day-to-day responsibility of the relevant coordinators and Heads of section to ensure that:

  1. Academic reports, memos, etc. are read and assessed by several professionally competent people before publication;
  2. The client/ordering authority, and if relevant, stakeholders appointed by the client/ordering authority, must have commissioned work, memos, reports etc. for comments prior to publication;
  3. There is transparency and documentation for who has commented, cf. 1 and 2;
  4. It appears from the report, should there be different, well-founded academically views within the field of research, including the consortium, in relation to key elements of academic conclusions;
  5. The rules on transparent authorship (the Vancouver declaration) must be followed, because it is the individual researcher who, pursuant to the universities’ research standards, is responsible for the academic content of his or her own work.

Any investigatory or consultancy assignment must therefore have a project manager, who is responsible for the resolving of the assignment, as well as one or more co-author(s), who are at least involved in initiating the assignment, designing the work, reading and commenting as well as in the publication of the assignment, which naturally meets the Vancouver rules for co-authorship. Co-authors may be colleagues at IFRO or competent external partners (the selection of these takes place in consultation between the project manager, the head of section and the public-sector services coordinator). This helps to ensure that as few as possible works alone in their fields, and that skills and knowledge are built up with several different people, and that the knowledge of the public-sector consultancy is disseminated in and outside the department.

A final element in the quality assurance concerns timely publication. IFRO undertakes to support this by publishing all commissioned work, notes, reports, etc., including analyses and conclusions, in a form and manner so that they are accessible, verifiable and comprehensible to all interested parties. IFRO publishes its own products in the public-sector consultancy. The publication of final versions shall be without any significant delay.

IFRO also follows the faculties SCIENCE and SUND's Manual for Quality Assurance of Research-based Consultancy, which contains the minimum requirements for documentation and transparency.
Find the Manual for quality assurance of research-based consultancy