Quality of reports of investigations of research integrity by academic institutions

Authors : Andrew Grey, Mark Bolland, Greg Gamble, Alison Avenell

Background

Academic institutions play important roles in protecting and preserving research integrity. Concerns have been expressed about the objectivity, adequacy and transparency of institutional investigations of potentially compromised research integrity.

We assessed the reports provided to us of investigations by three academic institutions of a large body of overlapping research with potentially compromised integrity.

Methods

In 2017, we raised concerns with four academic institutions about the integrity of > 200 publications co-authored by an overlapping set of researchers. Each institution initiated an investigation.

By November 2018, three had reported to us the results of their investigations, but only one report was publicly available. Two investigators independently assessed each available report using a published 26-item checklist designed to determine the quality and adequacy of institutional investigations of research integrity. Each assessor recorded additional comments ad hoc.

Results

Concerns raised with the institutions were overlapping, wide-ranging and included those which were both general and publication-specific. The number of potentially affected publications at individual institutions ranged from 34 to 200.

The duration of investigation by the three institutions which provided reports was 8–17 months. These investigations covered 14%, 15% and 77%, respectively, of potentially affected publications.

Between-assessor agreement using the quality checklist was 0.68, 0.72 and 0.65 for each report. Only 4/78 individual checklist items were addressed adequately: a further 14 could not be assessed.

Each report was graded inadequate overall. Reports failed to address publication-specific concerns and focussed more strongly on determining research misconduct than evaluating the integrity of publications.

Conclusions

Our analyses identify important deficiencies in the quality and reporting of institutional investigation of concerns about the integrity of a large body of research reported by an overlapping set of researchers.

They reinforce disquiet about the ability of institutions to rigorously and objectively oversee integrity of research conducted by their own employees.

URL : Quality of reports of investigations of research integrity by academic institutions

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1186/s41073-019-0062-x

Open science and codes of conduct on research integrity

Author : Heidi Laine

The purpose of this article is to examine the conceptual alignment between the ethical principles of research integrity and open science. Research integrity is represented in this study by four general codes of conduct on responsible conduct of research (RCR), three of them international in scope, and one national.

A representative list of ethical principles associated with open science is compiled in order to create categories for assessing the content of the codes. According to the analysis, the current understanding of RCR is too focused on traditional publications and the so called FFP definition of research misconduct to fully support open science.

The main gaps include recognising citizen science and societal outreach and supporting open collaboration both among the research community and beyond its traditional borders.

Updates for both the content of CoCs as well as the processes of creating such guidelines are suggested.

URL : Open science and codes of conduct on research integrity

DOI : https://doi.org/10.23978/inf.77414