Research conduct has increasingly become the focus of European and international organisations, with a flurry in the production of codes, reports and positions.
As a global research enterprise emerges, so too do the differences among countries in the definitions of and approaches to the conduct of responsible research. This is now also being addressed by the world’s national scientific academies through their representative international organizations, the Inter-Academy Council (IAC) and the IAP – the global network of science academies. These organisations, both member networks of the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP) launched a research integrity project in 2011.
The first product of this project, published earlier this year, is Doing Global Science: A guide to responsible conduct in the global research enterprise. This covers practical guidance for doing scientific research, responsible conduct and communication with the public, issues commonly encountered in international collaborations, and a guide for practicing scientists on fostering research integrity. This is a joint effort by the scientific academies to provide clarity and advice to forge an international consensus on responsible conduct in the global research enterprise.
The report brings together a huge number of issues, and provides real world examples to visualise how they might work in real life. (N.B. Policy wonks out there, pay special attention to Chapter 10: Communicating with Policy Makers and the Public.)
There have been a lot of scientific organisations focusing on this topic recently (see previous blogs and additional resources below). But what has prompted this? Have scientists been doing bad things? There have been several high-profile cases of misconduct, irreproducible research and fraud in the news around the world. There is a concern that the high-profile nature of these could have shaken public trust in the scientific methods and processes, and scientists themselves. Little evidence exists for this currently.
Last year the UN decided to review its Recommendation on the Status of Scientific Researchers, which covers researcher conduct, to see if 40 years after its composition in 1974 it was still relevant today. You can find the UK National Commission for UNESCO’s submission to this here.
And it is not just our own community asking these questions. Alok Jha has recorded a two-part BBC Radio programme titled ‘Saving Science from the Scientists’ exploring whether science is rigorous enough and what the role of the conduct of scientists is in ensuring this… or not?
The committee that produced Doing Global Science hopes it encourages participants and stakeholders in the global research enterprise—researchers, research institutions, public and private research funders, journals, academies, and interacademy organizations—to redouble efforts to promote responsible research in the context of individual labs, institutions, disciplines, countries, regions, and the global enterprise.
EU Competitiveness Council of national research Ministers – adopted a position on research integrity for the first time 1 December 2015
European Code of Conduct on Research Integrity (ESF, ALLEA 2011)