Quality assurance of research-based consultancy

In 2014, the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, introduced internal quality assurance of research-based consultancy. The purpose of the quality assurance system is to ensure that the institute continues to provide research-based consultancy of a high quality, in a professional and trustworthy way.

The system to ensure and document research-based consultancy provided by the National Food Institute consists first and foremost of procedures which describe the work process from the moment a case or inquiry is received to the moment a reply is returned to the inquirer. In addition, the system consists of administrative procedures for establishing definitions, administering personnel documents, handling documents, auditing the system and sharing and exchanging experience amongst advisers.

Consultancy cases

The descriptions in the quality assurance system build on experience and procedures in the academic divisions of the institute. By following the procedures in the daily routines harmonised and efficient registration and handling of consultancy cases is obtained.

The purpose of the system is to provide the institute and inquirers with a common understanding of the scope of a particular case in terms of time and degree of detail. Invariably, the institute strives to render the consultancy sought on time, and the quality assurance system will contribute to reaching this goal to an even greater extent.

Qualifications and impartiality

In addition, the quality assurance system contributes to clarity at all times about the qualifications of the institute’s advisers by documenting their level of competency and impartiality. The same is true as regards the institute’s integrity.

The procedure for dealing with questions about the institute’s and research advisers’ impartiality in connection with case handling also describes how independence is assessed. This procedure was established to ensure that no legitimate doubts about the institute’s or advisers’ impartiality can arise.

See procedure (SOP) for dealing with questions regarding impartiality of the institute and scientific advisers (pdf)

Transparency and openness

The institute undertakes research both on its own and in cooperation with Danish and foreign research institutions and corporate companies. Research is financed by framework agreements with Danish ministries, open-competition funding from Danish and international public and private foundations and contracts with private companies. Furthermore, the institute renders research-based consultancy to Danish and international authorities, organisations and companies.

To ensure openness about funding and cooperation the institute publishes on its website a list of authorities and companies with which it cooperates on projects where funding exceeds 500,000 DKK per calendar year.

The DTU National Food Institute has prepared a guide aimed at clarifying guidelines for compliance with the arm's length principle, thus avoiding the influence of external clients and grantors on advisory responses and results of research projects.

The guidance (attached below - only in Danish) is directed to researchers and advisers at DTU National Food Institute and includes external cooperation with public and private clients.

The guidelines must be regarded as the institute's supplement to DTU codex for scientific advice.

See the guidance for coorperation with external clients (Danish only) (pdf)


Anette Bysted

Anette Bysted Senior Academic Officer, Quality Manager