Findings of serious research misconduct undermine confidence in the sector and are rightly of public interest. Once publicised, the inevitable media storm sets the scene for accusations of secrecy and institutional cover up, with calls for national intervention. Any bad apple so the argument goes, points to a failure of self-regulation, with universities accused of having a vested interest in sweeping such matters under the carpet. But is this really the case?
When it comes to institutional investigations of serious research misconduct, it can be tempting to be suspicious and critical – when know we have been in the past. This piece looks at the independent national framework such frameworks and the processes that keep them transparent, honest and fair. We are still not entirely convinced that the current approach in Australia is delivering the best outcomes but we respect the individuals that work for all of us. We have included links to a large batch of related items
Yet, all is not rosy. There are no national data, essential for monitoring frequency, detection and prevention of serious research misconduct – chiefly falsification fabrication and plagiarism. Although reported cases seem relatively rare at around one p.a. at our major universities, can we be sure it is not higher? And are these rising, given threats from paper mills, predatory journals, image manipulation, publish or perish career bottlenecks, and now ChatGPT?
There is the Australian Research Integrity Committee (ARIC), set up jointly by the ARC and NHMRC in 2011. ARIC may do a reasonable job within the constraints of its limited ombudsperson remit of reviewing process in response to complainants. But it rules on only half a dozen or so complaints annually, and now finds itself the subject of an independent evaluation, to focus on its effectiveness and performance.