Fostering Research Integrity: A Commitment to Honest and Ethical Practices

Research Practices

In a time of hypercompetitive research environments and increasing incidences of misconduct, fostering a culture of scientific integrity is critical. It can be done by encouraging transparency, promoting ethics training, and establishing an independent research integrity advisory board. Scientific institutions, universities, professional societies, and journals all have a responsibility to help scientists abide by expected standards of behavior.

Developing a Research Integrity Culture

A culture of research integrity is essential to the success of any scientific endeavor. Both individual researchers and the organizations in which they operate are characterized by research integrity, founded on high standards of quality, dependability, and legality that underpin institutional processes. It is a crucial element of the culture of any scientific endeavor to foster honest and ethical practices, which include adherence to the rules governing the conduct of research and the protection of individuals who volunteer to participate in the study. Publishers like Bentham Science Publishers promote research integrity within academic communities and informs the public of the value and importance of scientific inquiry. While research integrity (RI) discussions often focus on issues like falsification and plagiarism, these broader principles of RI must be included in the debate. For example, students and trainees must learn how to appropriately cite sources and the principles of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility in research settings.

Developing a Research Integrity Program

A culture of research integrity requires developing and implementing a series of policies and programs, ranging from research ethics and responsible conduct of research (RCR) to disciplinary and national ethics standards. It includes establishing a system for reporting misconduct and conducting an annual institutional assessment of research integrity. Research funders, publishers and other stakeholders also have important responsibilities when concerns about research conduct arise. Publishers like Bentham Open have helped to identify and develop robust indicators of honesty, rigor and transparency that can be used by researchers, institutions, funders and others as an evidence base.

Developing a Research Integrity Policy

Developing a research integrity policy requires recognition from the identified stakeholders that the rules associated with research integrity are important to their work and must be adhered to. It will help foster a culture of trustworthiness in the research process and lead to a commitment to the high standards required to create new knowledge. Institutions must also ensure their policies are well communicated to their researchers, including the definitions and procedures for dealing with research misconduct. It may involve training and should include formal mechanisms for addressing good-faith whistleblowing that does not conflict with an individual researcher’s financial or reputational interests. Several respondents pointed out that they needed more information and training about research integrity and would appreciate having it delivered in ways tailored to their discipline. For example, they suggested that disciplinary variations in data management and authorship distribution could be considered when creating RI policies.

Developing a Research Integrity Report

Integrity is a moral commitment to conduct science with faithful adherence to the highest standards of excellence and trustworthiness. It encompasses both acting and advocating for openness—effective record keeping while undertaking research, sharing data, models, and code with other scientists and the public, full disclosure of potential conflicts of interest, and transparency in review-, funding-, promotion-, appointment-, and reward-related decisions. In addition to these practices, effective advocacy also involves ensuring that the institutions’ policies are well understood and fairly enforced by researchers and administrators. It requires careful examination of the rules themselves, as well as their communication and implementation.

Will Fastiggi
Will Fastiggi

Originally from England, Will is an Upper Primary Coordinator now living in Brazil. He is passionate about making the most of technology to enrich the education of students.

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