Australian academics say the country’s new research code of conduct is open to abuse by institutions, which are expected to investigate themselves. The code removes the requirement for an independent inquiry into serious cases of misconduct.
Academics are concerned that without an independent body holding institutions accountable, researchers will be denied a fair investigation and public confidence in research could suffer. “Self-regulation just doesn’t work; conflicts of interests are bound to occur,” says cell biologist, David Vaux, deputy director of science integrity and ethics at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.
Researchers can request the Australian Research Integrity Committee to conduct reviews of investigations and make recommendations to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Australian Research Council (ARC), but the committee lacks transparency and authority, says Vaux. Its focus will be on processes, not outcomes, he says.
Mallapaty, S (2018) Australian researchers ‘vulnerable’ under new code of conduct: Lack of independent oversight in examining alleged breaches leaves academics at the whim of institutions. Nature Index. 20 June 2018