The long-awaited report on the peak research agencies’ integrity committee is still awaited, but the case for change is made by a report on what the existing body did last year – it wasn’t much.
This interesting piece looks at data about the operation of ARIC, the conduct of institutional research misconduct investigations what kind of change might be required. There might be a role for a national independent, expert and fearless body, as well as greater transparency in the conduct of investigations. The current system is seriously compromised by institutional conflicts of interest. The current system is not sufficient for what we need.
ARIC can review research institutions inquiries into integrity issues in cases of complaints regarding procedural fairness and proper process.
Last year the Committee had 11 live cases and completed three reviews, variously finding institutions, should have another go at an investigation, call in an independent panel, improve processes and provide information on appeals. In no cases did ARIC conclude that no action was needed.
It sets out eight issues identified in its reviews of institutions’ inquiries, including conflicts of interests, overlooking/ignoring parts of complaints, timeliness and a lack of objectivity in investigation; “some complainants can be seen as difficult to deal with but may still have a valid complaint.”
ARIC states, “It is important that the Australian public can have faith in research outcomes and particularly in research conducted with public funds.”