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Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Austrian agency shows how to tackle scientific misconduct – Nature (Editorial | September 2018)

Published/Released on September 19, 2018 | Posted by Admin on October 22, 2018 / , , , , , ,
 


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A decade on from a major academic scandal, officials there have got their act together.

Many countries are trying to clamp down on scientific misconduct. Last week, the UK government promised to look into setting up an independent body to oversee institutional investigations into research misconduct, and the Netherlands has revamped its research-integrity code. Last month, India said it would crack down on widespread academic plagiarism. And earlier this year, Chinese officials pledged to get tough on academic fraud with new laws that include a dedicated government agency to police misconduct.

The problem is that much of this renewed political attention is not translating into meaningful action. High-profile cases of exposed malpractice continue to pile up, and surveys of researchers regularly confirm that poor behaviour is shockingly more common than many who promote the values of science might want to accept.

So it is promising to report from a meeting in Vienna last week that was held to celebrate ten years of the Austrian Agency for Research Integrity. The organization is not perfect, but it has much to be proud of. Its work shows what can be achieved given the requisite political will. And it reveals some of the problems that remain, in Austria and elsewhere. Officials in countries that are looking for ways to tackle misconduct should pay close attention.

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