Editorial Snapshot: Addressing concerns about research integrity

- G.A., Senior Editor

In 2012, the Government of the United Kingdom, in collaboration with such organizations as Research Councils UK, the National Institute for Health Research, and the Wellcome Trust, published “The Concordat to Support Research Integrity”. This agreement outlined a national framework for ensuring that research is conducted professionally, ethically, and legally.

In July 2018, a report published by the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee provided details regarding the progress made with regards to compliance with established research guidelines at institutions throughout the United Kingdom. Disappointingly, it is stated in the report that around one quarter of all universities in the UK do not produce the recommended annual report on research integrity.

Given that there are currently no consequences for not following the recommendations in the “The Concordat to Support Research Integrity”, the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee recommends strengthening UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the government’s funding arm, to allow the agency to demand the return of research funding if an institution does not adequately investigate allegations of misconduct.

Although only a very small percentage of scientific research is conducted in violation of ethical standards, it is essential that scientists and the general public can trust the integrity of published findings. Therefore, the idea of linking funding with research integrity is an important consideration. However, any decision made based on the report published by the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee should be seen as only a single step in an ongoing process of monitoring and improving the integrity of scientific research.

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