Excerpt: Can we teach good behavior in the lab? That’s the premise behind a number of interventions aimed at improving research integrity, invested in by universities across the world and even private companies. Trouble is, a new review from the Cochrane Library shows that there is little good evidence to show these interventions work. We spoke with authors Elizabeth Wager (on the board of directors of our parent organization) and Ana Marusic, at the University of Split School of Medicine in Croatia.
Retraction Watch: Let’s start by talking about what you found – looking at 31 studies (including 15 randomized controlled trials) that included more than 9500 participants, you saw there was some evidence that training in research integrity had some effects on participants’ attitudes, but “minimal (or short-lived) effects on their knowledge.” Can you talk more about that, including why the interventions had little impact on knowledge?
Elizabeth Wager and Ana Marusic: Because studies use different measures of success, we grouped them into those looking at effects on behavior, attitude or knowledge. Obviously, it’s easier to measure researchers’ attitudes towards misconduct than to measure actual misconduct. You would expect training should increase knowledge, but many studies showed little effect. This might be because most researchers already know about types of misconduct and it isn’t lack of knowledge that causes them to go astray. A few studies looked at effects immediately after training but found these had worn off after a few months.