The Dilemma Game

From The Embassy of Good Science

The Dilemma Game

What is this about?

The Rotterdam dilemma game is an engaging tool for raising awareness of research integrity and professionalism among researchers in different stages of their careers. It was developed as an initiative of the Erasmus University Rotterdam Taskforce on Scientific Integrity. The game presents various cases involving moral conflicts encountered in research practice and players have to vote on the course of action they would take. The game can help to initiate discussions about research integrity and research culture. The Dilemma game can be played as a card game or be downloaded as a mobile app (see below). The game has been widely used for training purposes in research integrity in a variety of organizations.

Why is this important?

Being a researcher, sooner or later in your career you may be faced with situations that may cause moral distress. The best way to meet these challenges is to be educated on research integrity and research ethics. As an interactive tool and addition to education, the Rotterdam dilemma game can be used as an exercise for considering and dealing with different research integrity issues. The game includes various themes, e.g. authorship, publications, mentoring Ph.D. students, data processing and data analysis. Whether you are a senior researcher or a Ph.D. student, the dilemma game can help you to reflect on moral issues in research.[1] By presenting various dilemma scenarios (+75 of them), the “players” engage in discussions which enable them to choose and defend their position in different situations. Through its design, it aims to trigger the reconsideration of opinions and possible actions.

  1. Erasmus Research Institute of Management. Dilemma Game. Accessed May 24 2019. Available at:

For whom is this important?

What are the best practices?

The Taskforce Scientific Integrity from the Erasmus University Rotterdam has made a number of recommendations for use of the game in their institution. One of the recommendations is that the game is used as a part of PhD training, as well as a faculty training session on research integrity.[1] The dilemma game has also proved useful beyond its home institution, for example it is used as an exercise in research integrity seminars provided by University College London and the PRINTEGER project has listed the dilemma game as one of the learning modules on their platform. As an interactive and educational exercise, the dilemma game is used in training sessions for research integrity trainers by the Horizon 2020 VIRT2UE project.

Dilemma game app

The developers have been adapting the card game into an app, in order to make the dilemmas not only more accessible, but also more relevant to a rapidly changing research environment and available for different purposes. With this app, researchers and teachers can use it individually, in a classroom game-mode and in a lecture mode, by connecting in a group. Moreover, users are now more regularly confronted with integrity dilemmas through notifications, with new dilemma’s added each month and the invitation to share own research integrity dilemma’s. This app is a great example of an inspiring initiative, since it serves different objectives: it is a usable tool for training purposes, creates ongoing awareness and supports research culture by facilitating discussion.

The dilemma game can 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.

  1. Erasmus University Rotterdam Taskforce Scientific Integrity. Fostering professionalism and integrity in research. 2013. Accessed May 24 2019. Available at: