Escape Room Responsible Conduct of Research

04 June 2021

Educational project

Escape Room Responsible Conduct of Research

This project developed an engaging game-based activity on research integrity for Research Master (RMA) students. The core focus was to empower students by developing their skills for Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) in research integrity (RI) by increasing student awareness and by helping students to reflect on issues they will encounter in practice.

The project is a follow-up of the Educate-it Escape Room, which offered a combination of a game experience and a discussion (debrief) afterwards. We aimed to develop a game that a) caters to large groups of students at the same time; b) focuses on a multidisciplinary audience, by paying attention to customary and cultural differences in research practices and c) will be made publicly available using blended techniques.


There is a need for engaging educational tools for specific learning phases and disciplines that are appealing to students (Whitton, 2009 or Clarke et. al., 2016). E.g. Life Science RMA students persistently evaluate a course on RI quite low (3.0 on a 5 point scale) and many find the topic quite boring and not relevant to them, while students do need to be prepared for the uncertainty and dynamics in research practices, especially when it comes to research integrity.

Escape Rooms are live action team-based games where players are put in a situation that requires immediate action: they need to discover clues, solve puzzles and accomplish tasks in one or more rooms within a limited amount of time. In higher education several examples exist of courses integrating Escape Room experiences. Escape Rooms have been claimed to help improve deep learning, stimulate student engagement and persistence (Eukel, Frenzel & Cernusca, 2017),  to stimulate the uptake of new skills, experiences and knowledge (Pun, 2017), to improve complex competences (Hermanss, Hillhouse & Opella, 2017)  and to make boring topics simply more attractive (Cain, 2019).

Goal and expected results

The aim of this project was to offer an engaging experience that will stimulate reflection on RCR, i.e. experiences which help to empower students in recognizing, discussing and handling research integrity issues.

Outcomes of the project:

An educational game (not, ultimately, an escape room) in which students encounter dilemmas concerning research integrity. Students play in groups and need to discuss the best way through the game for their character while confronted with a series of dilemmas. During the game, they are confronted with the impact of their decisions on other game characters and encounter elements that can be useful when facing RI dilemmas, such as integrity officers and the ALLEA Code of Conduct.

The gaming session is followed by a plenary group discussion about the dilemmas encountered and, depending on the experience and interests of the students and the goals of the educational setting, research integrity themes related to these dilemmas. The game is played online, but the students are ideally present on location.


  • Eukel, HN, Frenzel JE, Cernusca, D. (2017). Educational gaming for Pharmacy Students –Design and Evaluation of a Diabetes-themed Escape Room, American Journal of Pharmaceutical education. Vol 81 (7)
  • Cain, J (2019). Exploratory implementation of a blended format escape room in a large enrolment pharmacy management class, Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning 11:44-50.
  • Clarke, S., Arnab, S., Keegan, H., Morini, L., Wood. O. (2016). EscapED: Adapting Live-action, interactive games to Support Higher Education Teaching and Learning Practices, Games and Learning Alliance 2016: 44-153.
  • Hermanss, M., Deal, B., Hillhouse, S., Opella, JB. (2017). Using an ‘Escape Room’ toolbox approach to enhance pharmacology education, Nursing Faculty Publications and Presentations. Paper 16. Http://
  • van der Linden, A., van Joolingen, W. R., & Meulenbroeks, R. F. (2018, December). Designing an Intrinsically Integrated Educational Game on Newtonian Mechanics. In International Conference on Games and Learning Alliance (pp. 123-133). Springer, Cham.
  • Pun, R. (2017). Hacking the Research Library: Wikipedia, Trump, and Information Literacy in the Escape Room at Fresno State, Library Quarterly 87: 330-336.
  • Whitton N. (2009), Learning with digital games. A practical guide to engage students in higher education.;

You are free to share and adapt, if you give appropriate credit and use it non-commercially. More on Creative Commons


Are you looking for funding to innovate your education? Check our funding calender!