A survey of how biology researchers assess credibility when serving on grant and hiring committees

Authors : Iain Hrynaszkiewicz, Beruria Novich, James Harney, Veronique Kiermer

Researchers who serve on grant review and hiring committees have to make decisions about the intrinsic value of research in short periods of time, and research impact metrics such Journal Impact Factor (JIF) exert undue influence on these decisions. Initiatives such as the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA) and the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) emphasize responsible use of quantitative metrics and avoidance of journal-based impact metrics for research assessment. Further, our previous qualitative research suggested that assessing credibility, or trustworthiness, of research is important to researchers not only when they seek to inform their own research but also in the context of research assessment committees.

To confirm our findings from previous interviews in quantitative terms, we surveyed 485 biology researchers who have served on committees for grant review or hiring and promotion decisions, to understand how they assess the credibility of research outputs in these contexts. We found that concepts like credibility, trustworthiness, quality and impact lack consistent definitions and interpretations by researchers, which had already been observed in our interviews.

We also found that assessment of credibility is very important to most (81%) of researchers serving in these committees but fewer than half of respondents are satisfied with their ability to assess credibility. A substantial proportion of respondents (57% of respondents) report using journal reputation and JIF to assess credibility – proxies that research assessment reformers consider inappropriate to assess credibility because they don’t rely on intrinsic characteristics of the research.

This gap between importance of an assessment and satisfaction in the ability to conduct it was reflected in multiple aspects of credibility we tested and it was greatest for researchers seeking to assess the integrity of research (such as identifying signs of fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism), and the suitability and completeness of research methods. Non-traditional research outputs associated with Open Science practices – research data, code, protocol and preprints sharing – are particularly hard for researchers to assess, despite the potential of Open Science practices to signal trustworthiness.

Our results suggest opportunities to develop better guidance and better signals to support the evaluation of research credibility and trustworthiness – and ultimately support research assessment reform, away from the use of inappropriate proxies for impact and towards assessing the intrinsic characteristics and values researchers see as important.

DOI : https://doi.org/10.31222/osf.io/ht836

Une recherche responsable. L’intégrité scientifique

Auteur.ices : M. Alunno-Bruscia, C. Duquennoi, P. Goulletquer, E. Jaligot, A. Kremer, F. Simon-Plas

Aujourd’hui, la recherche et l’innovation sont au cœur de très nombreux projets de développement et de la vie démocratique de nos sociétés : elles affectent à un degré sans précédent la vie quotidienne de chaque citoyen.

Nombre de décisions politiques – nous l’avons vécu tout particulièrement pendant la crise de la Covid-19 – mobilisent de l’expertise scientifique, et ce qui se passe dans un laboratoire peut affecter très rapidement et très concrètement nos conditions et nos modes de vie.

Songeons par exemple à l’essor de l’intelligence artificielle, aux interventions sur les génomes ou aux projets de géo-ingénierie. Cette centralité de la science dans nos « sociétés de la connaissance » s’accompagne, sans surprise, d’une demande croissante, et légitime, de prise de responsabilité : puisqu’elles affectent tant nos vies, la recherche et l’innovation se doivent à présent elles aussi d’être « responsables », ce qui requiert, en premier lieu, le respect …

URL : Une recherche responsable. L’intégrité scientifique

Coordinating culture change across the research landscape

Authors : Leslie D. McIntosh, Cynthia Hudson Vitale

Scientific integrity necessitates applying scientific methods properly, collecting and analyzing data appropriately, protecting human subjects rightly, performing studies rigorously, and communicating findings transparently.

But who is responsible for upholding research integrity, mitigating misinformation, and increasing trust in science beyond individual researchers? We posit that supporting the scientific reputation requires a coordinated approach across all stakeholders: funding agencies, publishers, scholarly societies, research institutions, and journalists and media, and policy-makers.

URL : Coordinating culture change across the research landscape

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3389/frma.2023.1134082

Enter the dragon: China and global academic publishing

Author : Ken Hyland

One of the most dramatic changes in global publishing in the last decade has been the emergence of China. China now has more researchers than the United States, outspends the United States and European Union in research and publishes more scientific papers each year than any other nation in the world.

The quality of these papers is also increasing, with more appearing in top-ranked journals and gaining more citations overall. Despite this success, China has gained an unenviable reputation for research misconduct and geopolitical issues threaten its continuation.

Given the impact of China’s growing presence on editors, publishers and non-Chinese authors seeking to publish in the same journals, it is important to understand the reasons, directions and outcomes of these changes, their effect on Chinese scholars and local Chinese journals, and where they might be leading.

In this review paper I explore the rise of Chinese scholarship, its influence on global publishing and on Chinese scholars, and how the Chinese government is responding to its new role in global academic publishing.

URL : Enter the dragon: China and global academic publishing

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1002/leap.1545

Contours of a research ethics and integrity perspective on open science

Authors : Tom Lindemann, Lisa Häberlein

This article argues that adopting a research ethics and integrity perspective could support researchers in operationalizing the open science guiding principle “as open as possible, as closed as necessary” in a responsible and context-sensitive manner.

To that end, the article points out why the guiding principle as such provides only a limited extent of action-guidance and outlines the practical value of ethical reflection when it comes to translating open science into responsible research practice.

The article illustrates how research ethics and integrity considerations may help researchers understand the ethical rationale underpinning open science as well as recognize that limiting openness is necessary or at least normatively permissible in some situations.

Finally, the article briefly discusses possible consequences of integrating open science into a responsibility-centered framework and implications on research assessment.

URL : Contours of a research ethics and integrity perspective on open science

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3389/frma.2023.1052353

NSF Fellows’ perceptions about incentives, research misconduct, and scientific integrity in STEM academia

Authors : Siddhartha Roy, Marc A. Edwards

There is increased concern about perverse incentives, quantitative performance metrics, and hyper-competition for funding and faculty positions in US academia.

Recipients of the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships (n = 244) from Civil and Environmental Engineering (45.5%) and Computer Science and Engineering (54.5%) were anonymously surveyed to create a baseline snapshot of their perceptions, behaviors and experiences. NSF Fellows ranked scientific advancement as the top metric for evaluating academics followed by publishing in high-impact journals, social impact of research, and publication/citation counts.

The self-reported rate of academic cheating was 16.7% and of research misconduct was 3.7%. Thirty-one percent of fellows reported direct knowledge of graduate peers cheating, and 11.9% had knowledge of research misconduct by colleagues. Only 30.7% said they would report suspected misconduct.

A majority of fellows (55.3%) felt that mandatory ethics trainings left them unprepared for dealing with ethical issues. Fellows stated academic freedom, flexible schedules and opportunity to mentor students were the most positive aspects of academia, whereas pressures for funding, publication, and tenure were cited as the most negative aspects.

These data may be useful in considering how to better prepare STEM graduate trainees for academic careers.

URL : NSF Fellows’ perceptions about incentives, research misconduct, and scientific integrity in STEM academia

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-32445-3

Research integrity guidelines in the academic environment: The context of Brazilian institutions with retracted publications in health and life sciences

Authors : Rafaelly Stavale, Vanja Pupovac, Graziani Izidoro Ferreira, Dirce Bellezi Guilhem

Although research misconduct is responsible for most retractions in health and life sciences from authors affiliated with Brazilian institutions, there are few studies evaluating retraction notices and research misconduct in the country.

Understanding the form of research misconduct may share light on the weaknesses and strengths of individual, organizational, and structural factors toward the implementation of a research integrity culture.

This review on policies and practices aims to access the available information from research integrity offices and the guidelines from Brazilian funding institutions and universities who were involved in retractions in health and life science publications based on a previously published systematic review.

Additionally, we summarize the available guidelines and policies for research integrity in the country. Additionally, we searched publicly available guidelines and offices for research integrity.

In total, 15 institutions were analyzed: five funding agencies and 10 universities. Approximately 40% of the funding agencies promoted local research, and 60% promoted national research. Considering national funding agencies, 66% had the commission on research integrity. Approximately 30% of the universities do not have the official office for research integrity or any publicly available guidelines.

Most institutions involved in retractions due to some form of research misconduct. Brazilian institutions involved in publication retractions lack instruments to prevent, supervise, and sanction research misconduct. Institutions of the country have insufficiently developed a system to promote and sustain research integrity practices.

Nevertheless, there is a positive movement of researchers who are engaged in the investigation of research integrity, policy creation and training.

This study emphasizes increased influence of Brazilian scientific collaboration and production globally as well as the impact of retractions in medical sciences. In contrast, it addresses the need for clear research integrity policies to foster high-quality and trustworthy research.

URL : Research integrity guidelines in the academic environment: The context of Brazilian institutions with retracted publications in health and life sciences

DOI : https://doi.org/10.3389/frma.2022.991836