A new toolkit is being trialed as a way to bring clarity to issues of research misconduct and dishonest practices.
A pilot study at universities and private and public funding agencies in Europe testing a new toolbox of topics aimed at helping institutions draw up plans to curb shoddy or dishonest research practices.
Research integrity and resourcing the culture of research in an institution isn’t the sexy bit of a research office. It doesn’t improve the position of an institution on world ranking charts (though we think it should) or improve the chances an institution lands a big grant (again we think it should be a consideration). But an institutional investment in resourcing their research culture will improve the quality of their work, innoculate against junk science and research misconduct, plus mitigate against publication in questionable publications. We humbly suggest that efforts in that regard should be celebrated and pursued. This Nature Index piece includes some great suggestions.
Several studies have found that QRPs, such as cherry-picking data, withholding negative findings and concealing conflicts of interest, are common. A recent large-scale survey conducted in the Netherlands reported that more than half of the respondents had participated in at least one QRP in the previous three years; around 8% of researchers surveyed admitted to falsifying or fabricating data.
It is a condition of obtaining funding from the EU that an institution draws up a research-integrity promotion plan, which explains how it is managing the issue, says Joeri Tijdink, a psychiatry clinician and researcher at VU Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and one of the researchers involved in the project.
“Institutions have not [got] a lot of guidance [on] how they can improve research integrity with guidelines,” he says, referring to the SOPs4RI project. “We are the first big project that is trying to provide this to institutions.”