The meeting in Madrid on 17-18 November was organised by the newly formed Research Integrity Forum of the European Science Foundation (ESF) in collaboration with the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). It continued work set in motion by the first world conference on research integrity held in Lisbon in September 2007.
Fraud in science includes inventing data (fabrication), manipulating data to produce an unjustified result (falsification) or presenting the work of other researchers as one's own (plagiarism).
There is little hard evidence of the extent of the problem but various estimates suggest that between 0.1% and 1% of researchers commit fraud and perhaps as many as 10% to 50% engage in questionable practices. Most of these are relatively minor, said Dr John Marks, Director of Science and Strategy at ESF, "but if people get away with it and if no-one says anything about it, it might invite bigger issues of misconduct." He said that opinion polls showed that trust in scientists is still high "but that trust is easily lost by high profile cases of misconduct and that is why we are so concerned."
A survey by ESF earlier this identified 18 European countries that had put in place codes of conduct for good practice in research but they varied greatly in how they dealt with suspected cases. Many have set up research integrity offices to promote good practice and discourage misconduct.
No European country has yet followed the lead of the US National Science Foundation which, along with other federal agencies, has statutory powers to investigate allegations of fraud including power to subpoena evidence. Dr Peggy Fischer, of the NSF's Office of Inspector General, described how offenders can be required to take a course in scientific ethics or, in the most serious cases, banned from receiving any federal research funding for up to five years.
Systems in Europe tend to be more consensual and rely more on the self-governance of the scientific community. Professor Eero Vuorio, chair of the National Advisory Board on Research Ethics, said that all of Finland's universities and polytechnics and most research funding bodies had signed up to a national code of good scientific practice. Allegations of misconduct are investigated by individual institutions to an agreed procedure with the help of outside experts. Sanctions are in the hands of employers.
Although most countries agree on the core definition of what constitutes misconduct, they differ in how they regard other unethical behaviour and how they deal with it. The meeting heard reports on the situation in the United Kingdom, Portugal, the Czech Republic and France.
With much research now being done in international collaborations, problems can arise when fraud is committed within a cross-border partnership and there are no agreed rules on how cases are to be investigated and how sanctions can be imposed.
A move towards a common approach has been proposed by the Global Science Forum of the OECD, which would require potential collaborators to agree on what to do in cases of suspected misconduct. "When you're doing your collaborative planning you need to recognise that things can go wrong," said co-chair of the forum, Christine Boesz of NSF. She acknowledged that such an idea was new and was meeting resistance from some researchers.
The meeting also discussed the role of universities, national academies, international scientific bodies and scientific journals in promoting research integrity and heard of a project to compile a database of research papers known to be tainted by fraud. A proposal for a global clearinghouse to promote research integrity was also presented.
Members of the forum agreed to exchange information and good practice, to develop a code of conduct that could be used as a template for national codes, to develop a checklist to assist ESF members in setting up national and institutional structures to promote good practice and deal with misconduct, and to promote further research on the extent of misconduct.
Co-organiser Professor Juan José de Damborenea of CSIC told the meeting: "Society requires science and researchers to solve the problems that concern all of us. In general, public opinion has a good image of the honesty of scientists. We cannot allow it to be lost."
For more information please go to http://www.esf.org/activities/mo-fora/research-integrity/moforum-researchintegrity-workshop11-2008.html
Thomas Lau | alfa
Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru
28.04.2017 | InfectoGnostics - Forschungscampus Jena e.V.
Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies
20.04.2017 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences