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Research Integrity as a topic is part of the wider ﬁeld of research ethics or responsible conduct of research. Research Integrity is a topic that deals with adherence to ethical principles, national laws, policies and professional standards essential for the responsible conduct of research and can be traced back to the past four decades. Research Integrity gained popularity due to concerns about research misconduct as a result of the increased competition in the area of science due to increased government support and the urgent need to publish research ﬁndings among academics. There were concerns that some scientists were taking shortcuts including fabrication, falsifying data and abusing research participants in efforts to cut corners. Research Integrity is aimed at maintaining public trust, accountability and responsibility in the scientiﬁc research enterprise. Research Integrity can therefore be taken as a measure of the level to which researchers follow applicable regulations, ethical guidelines; and commonly accepted professional codes and norms of their respective research areas (Steneck (Science Eng Ethics 12(1): 53–74, 2006)). Research Integrity took a global dimension during the past three decades due to growth in international collaborative research. This entry discusses the history of the development of Research Integrity as an area of focus and highlights the main ethical issues that relate to the topic. Currently, there are numerous books dedicated to this topic and ofﬁces have been established in some countries and institutions to focus on this topic. The subject of Research Integrity is also being taught to students in some institutions of higher learning while there are various programs aimed at promoting the subject among research staff.
Research Integrity may be deﬁned as adherence to the ethical principles, rules and professional standards essential for the responsible conduct of research. Adherence implies adoption of ethical principles, institutional, national and professional requirements in the conduct of research. Science is about getting to the truth, and Research Integrity is about getting to the truth using the highest scientiﬁc, professional and ethical standards. Ethical practice, honesty, trustworthiness, and high regard for the scientiﬁc methods are essential attributes of any scientist with an interest in conducting research that beneﬁts mankind. For research institutions, integrity is about ensuring commitment to creating an environment that promotes responsible conduct by embracing standards of excellence, trustworthiness, and lawfulness in the conduct of research by staff and all members afﬁliated to the institution. The term “Responsible Conduct of Research” (RCR) is often used by institutions to refer to a wide range of areas of research compliance, professional conduct, and personal responsibility (Steneck 2007). The area of responsible conduct of research covers about ten domains including data management, mentoring of juniors, avoidance of research misconduct, peer review, appropriate handling of animal subjects, appropriate publication & authorship practices, protection of human participants in research, managing conﬂict of interest, appropriate practices in collaborative research; and environmental health and safety issues.
With the realization that research is an important stimulant of both economic and social development, governments have become more involved in research in various ways including funding, regulation and promotion of research. The atrocities committed by the Nazi scientists during the Second World War have demonstrated the need to come up with regulatory mechanisms for managing research in order to ensure that it is conducted in ways that ensure safety to human research participants. With the increase in research funding during the past six decades, there has also emerged the need for increased scrutiny of the research enterprise as a result of reports on irresponsible research conduct. The subject of Research Integrity grew from the 1980s onwards as a response to the various developments in the area of research, but mainly due to concerns about increasing reports of misconduct in research (Steneck 2006).
Two highly publicized examples of scientiﬁc misconduct in the area of human health involved Dr. John Darsee, a young clinical investigator in cardiology at a US hospital and Robert A. Slutsky, a radiologist also based in USA (Steneck 1999). During the late 1970s and 1980s, John Darsee published many research studies based on fabricated data and included faculty members as authors on the work although they had minimal or no direct involvement in the papers that bore their names. More than 10 primary journal articles and more than 45 abstracts were retracted as a result of the investigations. During the same period, Robert Slutsky was publishing on average one paper every 10 days and including as authors names of individuals who had not taken any part in the studies. The false authorships and fabrication of ﬁndings came up during a review of his publications in preparation for promotion. Roberty Slutsky resigned as a result of this revelation. A subsequent investigation revealed that of his 137 publications, 77 were valid, 48 were questionable, and 12 were fraudulent. Even in present day, there is evidence that suggests that research misconduct among scientists, continues due to the increasingly stressful competition for funds and the rush to publish (Titus and Bosch 2010).
On the international scene, the subject of Research Integrity is gaining popularity due to the growth in international collaborative research during the past three decades. A lot of multi-country studies are being conducted using mostly public funds from rich countries. In recognition of the increase in international collaboration, the Singapore Statement on Research Integrity was developed as part of global efforts to guide good research practice for individuals, organizations and governments. It was produced through the second World Congress on Research Integrity, which was held in Singapore in 2010. The principles and responsibilities set out in the Singapore Statement on Research Integrity therefore represent the ﬁrst international effort to encourage the development of uniﬁed policies, guidelines and codes of conduct, with the ultimate goal of fostering greater integrity in research throughout the world. The Statement is a result of contributions from about 340 individuals from 51 countries who participated in the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity. The 340 individuals included scientists, funders, leaders of research institutions (universities and research institutes) and academic journal editors. A draft of the Statement was developed by a small drafting committee that was appointed as part of preparations for the conference. The small committee also assisted in ﬁnalizing the draft for release after endorsement by the conference. (World Conference on Research Integrity 2010). The statement is summarized in the later part of this entry.
Research Integrity is a topic that discusses the use of honest and veriﬁable methods in proposing, performing, and evaluating research. It also encourages reporting research results with particular attention to adherence to rules, regulations, guidelines, and following commonly accepted professional codes or norms. Research Integrity can be deﬁned as the trustworthiness of research due to the soundness of its methods and the honesty and accuracy of its presentation. Responsible conduct of research (RCR) is deﬁned as the practice of scientiﬁc research with integrity. It involves the awareness and application of established professional norms and ethical principles in the performance of all activities related to scientiﬁc research. RCR therefore refers to the adherence to the highest standards of integrity in research. High standards are essential in all activities carried out in scientiﬁc research from proposal development through the actual conduct of the research to the reporting and dissemination of research ﬁndings. RCR covers broad issues such as objectivity, accuracy, falsiﬁcation, cheating, lying and stealing in the course of proposing, conducting or disseminating research ﬁndings (Shamoo and Resnik 2009).
Professionalism in science denotes honesty and high professional standards in research work. Besides providing their expertise, research professionals are expected to behave collegially and teach the skills to juniors, and put society’s needs ﬁrst in their professional activities. In response, society gives scientists support in the form of public funds and freedom in conducting their professional activities. Research Integrity is part of efforts at self–regulation, but when self-regulation fails to sustain honesty and high quality, society imposes rules and laws to maintain its interests in professional quality (Resnik 1998). Professionalism includes intellectual honesty, excellence in thinking and conducting research, collegiality and openness, freedom, responsibility and self-regulation.
Good research practices include but are not limited to the following practices:
– Honesty and fairness in proposing, performing, and reporting research;
– Accuracy and fairness in representing contributions to research proposals, reports and publications;
– Thoroughness and fairness in peer review;
– Respect in scientiﬁc interactions, communications and sharing of resources;
– Disclosure and proper management of any conﬂicts of interest;
– Protection of human research participants in the conduct of research;
– Humane care of animals that are used in the conduct of research;
– Adherence to the mutual responsibilities of mentors and mentees.
– Examining research data objectively and being guided by the results in reaching conclusions, rather than by preconceived ideas.
Principles Of The Singapore Statement On Research Integrity
As a document that was produced through global efforts, the Singapore Statement is an important international document aimed at promoting Research Integrity. By way of preamble the statement highlights that the value and beneﬁts of research depend on the integrity of research; implying that research that is conducted using low standards, is of low value and beneﬁts. While there may be national and disciplinary differences in the way research is organized and conducted, there are principles and professional responsibilities that are fundamental to the integrity of research wherever it is undertaken and regardless of discipline. The statement highlights the principles of honesty in all aspects of research, accountability in the conduct of research, professional courtesy and fairness in working with others and good stewardship of research resources on behalf of others including the public (World Conference on Research Integrity 2010).
The publication of the Singapore Statement on Research Integrity was intended to challenge governments, organizations and researchers to develop more comprehensive standards, codes and policies aimed at promoting Research Integrity both locally and globally. The principles and responsibilities summarized in the Statement were therefore aimed at providing a foundation for more expansive and speciﬁc guidance globally. Its publication and dissemination were intended to make it easier for national and institutional leaders to provide the leadership needed to promote integrity in research on a global basis, with a common approach to the fundamental elements of responsible research practice. The Statement was meant to be applicable to anyone who conducts research, to any organization that sponsors research and to any country that uses research results in decision-making. The Statement emphasized the fact that good research practices are expected of all researchers whether under government, corporate or academic enterprise.
The Singapore Statements highlight the following expectations concerning researchers and other research players (World Conference on Research Integrity 2010);
Expectations on integrity in research: Researchers are expected to take responsibility for the trustworthiness of their research. This implies that researchers need to be accountable for their work.
Expectations on adherence to regulations: Researchers are expected to be aware of and adhere to regulations and policies related to research. This implies that researchers need to take steps to ensure that they familiarize themselves with regulations. Institutional leaders also need to take steps to ensure that researchers are apprised on both national and institutional regulations.
Expectations on research methods: Researchers are expected to employ appropriate research methods, draw conclusions on the basis of critical analysis of the evidence and report ﬁndings and interpretations fully and objectively. This implies that researchers should be adequately equipped with research skills data management and manuscript writing.
Expectations on research records: Researchers are expected to keep clear, accurate records of all research in ways that will allow veriﬁcation and replication of their work by others. This implies that researchers should have access to record storage facilities. Institutional leaders can play an important role in ensuring that this requirement is adhered to.
Expectations on research ﬁndings: Researchers are expected to share data and ﬁndings openly and promptly, as soon as they have had an opportunity to establish priority and ownership claims. This expectation is aimed at ensuring that research ﬁndings are put to good use in a timely manner. The expectation also aims at protecting the research in terms of securing protection for their intellectual property in accordance with institutional and national requirements.
Expectations on authorship: Researchers are expected to take responsibility for their contributions to all publications, funding applications, reports and other representations of their research. It is further expected that the lists of authors should include all those and only those who meet applicable authorship criteria. This expectation is aimed at addressing unacceptable authorship practices that are becoming rampant in academic environments due to pressure to publish.
Expectations on publication acknowledgement: Researchers are expected to acknowledge in publications the names and roles of those who made signiﬁcant contributions to the research, including writers, funders, sponsors, and others, but do not meet authorship criteria. This expectation is also aimed at addressing unacceptable authorship practices and bringing clarity to the question of who should be an author and who qualiﬁes to be acknowledged.
Expectations on peer review: Researchers are expected to provide fair, prompt and rigorous evaluations and respect conﬁdentiality when reviewing others’ work. This expectation is aimed at ensuring that the peer review process remains an objective and useful component of the research process.
Expectations on conﬂict of interest: Researchers are expected to disclose ﬁnancial and other conﬂicts of interest that could compromise the trustworthiness of their work in research proposals, publications and public communications as well as in all review activities. This expectation recognizes the fact that researchers may enter into some conﬂict situations due to funding or family relationships.
Expectations on public communication: Researchers are expected to limit professional comments to their recognized expertise when engaged in public discussions about the application and importance of research ﬁndings and clearly distinguish professional comments from opinions based on personal views. This expectation is about maintaining professionalism and recognizing the limits that are placed on one’s capabilities by specializing in one area of expertise.
Expectations on reporting irresponsible research practices: Researchers are expected to report to the appropriate authorities any suspected research misconduct, including fabrication, falsiﬁcation or plagiarism, and other irresponsible research practices that undermine the trustworthiness of research, such as carelessness, improperly listing authors, failing to report conﬂicting data, or the use of misleading analytical methods. This expectation was aimed at ensuring that researchers play a part in self–regulating the scientiﬁc enterprise by serving as whistleblowers.
Expectations on responding to irresponsible research practices: Research institutions, as well as journals, professional organizations and agencies that have commitments to research, are expected to have procedures for responding to allegations of misconduct and other irresponsible research practices and for protecting those who report such behavior in good faith. When misconduct or other irresponsible research practice is conﬁrmed, appropriate actions should be taken promptly, including correcting the research record. This expectation is aimed at empowering journal editors and institutional leaders in addressing allegations of research misconduct.
Expectations on research environments: Research institutions are expected to create and sustain environments that encourage integrity through education, clear policies, and reasonable standards for advancement, while fostering work environments that support Research Integrity. This expectation is out of the realization that institutions play an important role in promoting integrity in research. By the mere fact that they house the scientists, it is in their own interests to play a facilitator role in ensuring an environment that is conducive for responsible conduct of research.
Expectations on societal considerations: Researchers and research institutions are expected to recognize that they have an ethical obligation to weigh societal beneﬁts against risks inherent in their work. This expectation takes cognizance of the fact that research institutions use public funds and that research should be aimed at advancing public good.
In the above expectations, the Singapore Statement addresses various players involved in the research enterprise and lays out the responsibilities of each party. With the global interest in ensuring that research is accountable to society, the Singapore Statement will become even more useful and governments and institutions will take steps to adopt more of the Statement’s expectations.
Responsible Conduct Of Research
Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) implies having high standards of ethics and accountability in proposing, planning, conducting and reporting research. Responsible Conduct of Research is demonstrated through behavior that meets accepted standards. These standards are set forth by state and federal regulations, institutional policies and professional codes of conduct (Shamoo and Resnik 2009). The building blocks of responsible conduct of research include: honesty in conveying information and honoring commitments, accuracy in reporting ﬁndings precisely and taking care to avoid errors, efﬁciency in using resources wisely and avoiding waste, and objectivity in presenting research ﬁndings and avoiding bias. Responsible conduct even extends to correcting errors as soon as one has identiﬁed them.
Responsible Conduct of Research generally covers 10 instructional areas which include: appropriate handling of human research participants; animal welfare; environmental protection; publication practices and responsible authorship; peer review; collaborative science; conﬂict of interest and commitment; mentoring; data acquisition, management, sharing and ownership; and research misconduct. Some funding agencies expect senior research team members to be trained in RCR. These funding agencies also expect the RCR certiﬁcations to be valid during the course of the grant. Institutional administrators can play various roles including facilitating or organizing RCR training and ensuring that certiﬁcation are valid at all times. The following sections that summarize the RCR topics are as presented by Shamoo and Resnik (2009).
Human Research Participants Protection
The use of human beings in research beneﬁts society in many ways, from contributing to the development of new drugs and medical procedures to understanding how humans think and act. The use of humans in research can also impose unacceptable risks on research participants. Review by a research ethics committee is required by international ethical standards governing research involving human participants, as well as by local law in many jurisdictions. In international cooperative research, review may be required by the laws of the country in which the research is being sponsored, even if it is not required by the host country’s own laws. Review is also essential if the researchers intend to publish the results of their investigation, as most health journals will not publish the results of research that has not received the approval of a research ethics committee. International guidance documents including Declaration of Helsinki, Council for International Organisations of the Medical Sciences (CIOMS) and Good Clinical Practice guidelines describe what is expected of researchers when conducting research that involves humans.
A research ethics committee (REC) is a group of people formally appointed to review research proposals to assess formally if the research is ethical. Review by a REC implies that the research must conform to recognized ethical standards, which include respecting the dignity, rights, safety and well-being of the people who participate in the research. The main responsibility of a research ethics committee is to protect participants in the research, but it must also take into account potential risks and beneﬁts for the community in which the research will be carried out. Its ultimate goal is to promote high ethical standards in health research. Researchers must satisfy a research ethics committee that the research they propose will be ethical and worthwhile. The committee has to be assured that any anticipated risks, burdens or intrusions will be minimized for the people taking part in the research and are justiﬁed by the expected beneﬁts for the participants or for science and society.
In international research, the local RECs represent the interests of the local populations. Thus, it should ensure that the participants and their communities will receive fair beneﬁts from the arrangements. In studies involving medical interventions, research ethics committees must determine that adequate care and treatment will be provided for participants. The REC should also consider what will happen to participants who need medical attention during or after the study, either because they suffer injuries as a result of participation or because of the natural progression of a pre-existing illness. Besides the oversight that is provided by the (RECs) as well as the legal requirements for consent, there are other ways in which the protection of research participants is assured. These include Community advisory boards (CABS); National drug regulatory authorities; Human rights and media organizations; study monitors and Data and safety monitoring boards (DSMB). Researchers are expected to familiarize themselves with ethical principles as well as international, national and institutional expectations. Some funding agencies and institutions now require researchers to maintain valid human participants certiﬁcation at all times.
The realm of research ethics has not only been limited to human research. In the area of drug development, animals are often used to test new products before introducing them to humans. Animals therefore play a very important role in research as they are used to understand more about test products before research can be conducted in humans. Over the years, considerations have been extended to research using animals. In recent times, animal rights activists have been on the forefront in ﬁghting for the rights of animals. Concerns have been raised regarding the ways in which animals have been treated in research including the excessive use of research animals in some situations and serious pain to animals during research. There is however general agreement that researchers need to handle research animals humanely, minimize their suffering: and use other means of acquiring safety data and that they need to come up with models that can be used instead of animals. Various countries have pieces of legislations that relate to the handling of animals and penalize individuals and organisations that treat animals with cruelty. Such acts apply to research as they prescribe how animals should be handled. Inspectors from agencies involved in providing oversight over animals may visit research institutions to check on how research animals are being kept. Numerous institutions have set up Animal Care and Use Committees (ACUC) whose role is to provide oversight over animals used in research and teaching. These committees are responsible for reviewing protocols that involve animals and to provide ongoing monitoring post-approval.
Concerns continue to be raised over the use of harmful materials including harmful biological organisms in research. Concerns are raised on the possible effects of such materials to the staff working in the research programmes, research participants, the public as well as the general environment. Hazardous materials need to be handled and used appropriately so that they do not cause harm to the research participants, research staff, the public and the environment. Some institutions have since set committees responsible for looking at the care and use of animals in research and those responsible for providing oversight for research involving hazardous substances. In various countries, there are legislations related to the handling of biosafety. These legislations also apply to research and should be adhered to in handling, storage and disposal of biohazards. Some countries have also established biosafety boards that oversee all activities involving hazardous materials. It is also expected that institutions have their own policies that relate to handling of biohazards. The occupational safety policies in institutions would also apply to research.
Publication Practices And Responsible Authorship:
Researchers share the results of their works with colleagues and the public in a variety of ways. Earlier results are usually shared during laboratory meetings, in seminars, and at professional meetings. Final results are usually communicated to others through scholarly articles and books. Public communication takes place through press releases, public announcements, newspaper articles, and public testimony. Some of these ways of communicating research results (i.e., of publication) are well structured and controlled; others are informal and have few controls.
Whether structured or informal, controlled or free ranging, responsible publication in research should ideally meet some minimum standards. All forms of publication should present a full and fair description of the work undertaken, an accurate report of the results, and an honest and open assessment of the ﬁndings. In assessing the completeness of any publications, researchers should ask whether they have described what they did (methods), what they discovered (results), and what they make of their discovery (discussion). Various institutions offer training in manuscript writing as a way of ensuring that research staff are adequately equipped. With the rush to publish as a result of competition in academic institutions, it is possible for researchers to engage in unacceptable practices such as publishing ﬁndings in small bits and pieces that are not very meaningful, as a way of maximizing on number of publications (salami publishing) or duplicating the same ﬁndings in various journals.
Peer review, which is evaluation of one’s work by colleagues with similar knowledge and experience, is an essential component of research and the self-regulation of professionals. The average person does not have the knowledge and experience needed to assess the quality and importance of a particular research study. Due to their knowledge in the area under study, peers have this knowledge. Therefore many important decisions about research depend on advice from peers, including which projects to fund (grant reviews), which research ﬁndings to publish (manuscript reviews), which scholars to hire and promote (personnel reviews), and which research is reliable (literature reviews and expert testimony). The quality of the decisions made in each case depends heavily on the quality of peer review.
Peer review can make or break professional careers and directly inﬂuence public policy. The fate of entire research programs, health initiatives, or environmental and safety regulations can rest on peer assessment of proposed or completed research projects. For peer review to work, it must be timely, thorough, constructive, free from personal bias, and respectful of the need for conﬁdentiality. Researchers who serve as peer reviewers should be mindful of the public as well as the professional consequences of their evaluations and exercise special care when making these evaluations. Peer reviewers with a personal agenda can harm individual scientists, a particular project or the whole scientiﬁc enterprise.
Researchers increasingly collaborate with colleagues who have the expertise and/or resources needed to carry out a particular project. Collaborations can be within an institution, across institutions and across countries. Collaborations can therefore be as complex as multi-centered clinical trials that involve academic research centers, private hospitals, and for-proﬁt companies studying thousands of patients in different countries.
Any project that has more than one person working on it requires some collaboration, i.e., working together. In most projects, however, one person, commonly called the “principal investigator” or PI, is in charge. Others work under the PI’s direction. In collaborative projects, researchers assume some additional responsibilities stemming from collaborative relationships. These additional responsibilities arise from the added burdens of the increasingly complex roles and relationships. Cultural and personal differences are inherent in any large collaborative project. Special attention to these differences as well as the added burdens can help keep collaborative projects running smoothly.
Conﬂict Of Interest And Commitment:
Researchers are allowed to and even encouraged to beneﬁt ﬁnancially from their work. Professional advancement for a researcher depends on productivity in terms of grants awarded as well as publications. Society expects researchers to use the funds availed for research for the purpose of advancing knowledge and in making discoveries that are relevant. Personal gain and satisfaction provide strong incentives for doing a good job and acting responsibly.
Researchers’ personal interests may often conﬂict with their professional interests. The advancement of knowledge is usually best served by sharing ideas with colleagues, putting many minds to work on the same problem. But personal gain is sometimes best served by keeping ideas to oneself until they are fully developed and then protected through patents, copyrights, or publications. Legitimate research interests can create competing responsibilities and lead to what is commonly called conﬂicts of interest (COI).
It is important to understand that conﬂicts of interest are not wrong in themselves. The complex and demanding nature of research today inevitably gives rise to competing obligations and interests. Researchers are expected to serve on committees, to train young researchers, to teach, and to review grants and manuscripts at the same time they pursue their own research. Conﬂicts of interest cannot and need not be avoided. They need to be managed in such a way that their impact on research is minimized.
With regards to ﬁnancial gain, work commitments, and intellectual and personal matters, special steps need to be taken in order to assure that conﬂicts do not interfere with the responsible practice of research. A conﬂict of interest in research exists when researchers or institutions in which the research takes place have speciﬁc interests, which might affect the primary obligations associated with research.
Strategies for dealing with conﬂict-of-interest are mainly preventive; they aim at avoiding situations that could have a negative inﬂuence on researchers’ most important duties, or that could reasonably be perceived as having such an inﬂuence. The following questions have to be asked in the context of research; What are the primary professional obligations of researchers; What secondary interests can affect these obligations; What is the appropriate measure to deal with a particular conﬂicts of interest, in the light of its potential impact?
While conducting research, investigators often assume the added role of mentoring junior staff members or trainees. The mentor mentee relationship is complex and presents some potentially challenging questions: How much time – training time for the mentor, research time for the mentee – should each devote to the other? Who gets credit for ideas that take shape during the course of a shared research study? Who owns the results? When does a trainee become an independent researcher?
The essential elements of a productive mentor mentee relationship are difﬁcult to codify into speciﬁc rules, leaving most of the decisions about responsible mentoring to the individuals involved. Common sense suggests that good mentoring should begin with a clear understanding of mutual responsibilities, a commitment to maintain a productive and supportive research environment, proper supervision and review, and an understanding that the main purpose of the relationship is to prepare mentees to become successful researchers. Understanding and agreements may mean little if they are not backed up by ﬁrm commitments to make the mentor-mentee relationship work. Knowing the importance of personal commitments, senior researchers should carefully consider what responsibilities they have to mentees before they take on the essential task of mentoring junior researchers. Mentees, in turn, should be aware of their responsibilities to mentors before accepting a position in a laboratory or research program. Overall mentors should be aware at all times that it is an obligation for them to mentor juniors as a way of ensuring the growth of the scientiﬁc enterprise.
Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing And Ownership:
Researchers spend much of their time collecting and manipulating data. Data are used to conﬁrm or reject hypotheses, to identify new areas of investigation, to guide the development of new investigative techniques, and more. Science cannot exist without reliable data. Data management practices are becoming increasingly complex and should be addressed before any data are collected by taking into consideration four important issues namely data ownership, data collection, data storage, and data sharing. In international collaborative research there are often complex data management procedures and in most studies, data are handled by a central data laboratory. The integrity of data and, by implication, the usefulness of the research ﬁndings, depend on careful attention to detail, from initial planning through to ﬁnal publication of ﬁndings.
Research misconduct occurs when a researcher fabricates or falsiﬁes data, or plagiarizes information or ideas within a research report or publication. The misconduct must be committed intentionally, and the allegation must be proven by sufﬁcient evidence. The deﬁnition of misconduct can also extend to breaches of conﬁdentiality and authorship/ publication violations. Whistleblowers, or those reporting the misconduct, are obligated to act, yet may face serious consequences, such as reduction in research support, ostracism, lawsuits or termination of employment. Institutions should have a procedure and structures in place to investigate and report ﬁndings of misconduct to the relevant ofﬁce and to protect both whistleblowers and the accused until a determination is made. Researchers found guilty of misconduct can lose research funding, be restricted to supervised research or lose their jobs, so a thorough investigation of an allegation of research misconduct is vital. Despite numerous allegations of misconduct, true misconduct is conﬁrmed only when it has been determined that the act represents a signiﬁcant departure from accepted practices, that the act has been committed intentionally, or knowingly, or recklessly, and that it can be proven by a preponderance of evidence.
What Can Be Done To Promote Research Integrity?
Institutions need to formally express the commitment to upholding the highest standards of conduct in research in various ways including having an institutional code of conduct, in the personnel policies, in academic honesty policies and students handbooks. Institutions can develop training programs that include online training as well as face-to-face training for staff. Researchers on their part need to endeavor to uphold the shared values in their work and in their conduct and to adhere to good scientiﬁc practices & ensure scientiﬁc rigor. Mentors need to set good examples for mentees and provide meaningful guidance for conduct and standards expected of scientists. Mentors also need to be attentive to mentees and be ready to confront and correct aberrant behavior. Junior researchers need to know and uphold the shared values in scientiﬁc research, to keep good scientiﬁc records and to know and understand their institution’s policies, standards and expectations on research. Science administrators can play a catalytic role. Institutional research leadership is a very important component in an institutional culture of Research Integrity as leaders who are committed to ethical research conduct can inﬂuence institutional conduct (Gunsalus 1993). They need to annunciate clearly policies, standards and expectations for researchers and staff and to facilitate the provision of education and support to researchers to promote responsible conduct of research. Administrators also need to establish transparent procedures for receiving and investigating scientiﬁc misconduct. Members of the public need to demand responsible conduct in scientiﬁc research including accountability from the scientiﬁc community.
The importance of trust in the research enterprise cannot be overemphasized. Research ﬂourishes on trust of the public who are the main supports of the research enterprise through the taxes they pay. The public including research participants trust that those conducting the study have their best interests at the top of their agenda. They also expect that conﬂicts of interest are disclosed to them and to others. Failure to adhere to high professional standards has disastrous consequences to institutions and researchers and the research enterprise. Every stakeholder has a role and responsibility to play in promoting a healthy and positive research culture that is conducive to the training of young scientists and the realization of scientiﬁc innovations for the beneﬁts of humankind.
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- World Conference on Research Integrity. (2010). Singapore statement on research integrity. Available at www. singaporestatement.org
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