Scientific controversies, from problems replicating results — such as with the now debunked association between autism and MMR vaccines — to researcher misconduct and sensationalism, have led to speculation of “trouble at the lab” as the Economist put it.
To address the issue, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands recently convened top scientists from Carnegie Mellon University, the University of California, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology and other leading institutions to examine ways to return to high scientific standards. In an opinion piece published in Science, the group outlines what can be done to better ensure research integrity.
Attempting to do so begins with acknowledging and addressing the problems that exist at every level, from the notion that science is self-correcting to academia’s incentive structures that encourage researchers to publish novel, positive results, to the greater opportunities open-access and other platforms provide to publish less-scrutinized studies. In addition, a lack of data sharing leads to the inability to replicate results, universities that want to make headlines exaggerate findings, and the media’s quest for ratings and readership often trumps quality reporting.
“Science is littered with irreproducible results, even from top places, and it’s a widespread problem that looks different in different domains, but there are shared commonalities,” said CMU’s Stephen E. Fienberg (pictured right), the Maurice Faulk University Professor of Statistics and Social Sciences. “As a statistician, I understand how the role of data is critical. But determining how to set a policy to support data access is very complicated — there is not a simple set of rules.”
The NAS and Annenberg group identified several ways to change incentives for quality and correction, including rewarding researchers for publishing high-quality work rather than publishing work more often; mentoring young peer-reviewers to increase clarity and quality of editorial responses during the journal publishing process; and using “voluntary withdrawal” and “withdrawal for cause” instead of the blanket “retraction” term, which has negative connotations that can prevent some researchers from taking action when a paper is wrong, but not as a result of fraud or misconduct.
“We all have a responsibility if we want science to work — academic institutions, scientific associations, journals, authors, university public relations officers and the press — people need to be trained all the way up the line.”
Because ensuring scientific integrity is the responsibility of many stakeholders, the group recommends that the National Academy of Sciences’ call for an independent Scientific Integrity Advisory Board in 1992 should be revisited. The board’s goal would be to address ethical issues in research conduct.
Additionally, universities should insist that their faculty and students are educated in research ethics; that their publications do not feature honorary or ghost authors; that public information officers avoid hype in publicizing findings; and suspect research is promptly and thoroughly investigated.
The Latest on: Research Integrity
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The Latest on: Research Integrity
- Research R&R Webinar Now Available on ScholarWorkson December 2, 2020 at 12:49 am
A webinar on Research Reproducibility and Replicability, originally presented on Nov. 10 with a keynote by UAMS faculty member Kevin Sexton, is now available for viewing on ScholarWorks.
- Open Letter To Vice Chancellor And University Council Of University Of Ghana, Legon- Research Integrity Of The Department Of Political Scienceon November 27, 2020 at 4:58 am
I have read with dismay the level of academic indiscipline regarding a poll allegedly conducted by the above department suggesting the winner of the 2020 elections.
- Largest ever research integrity survey flounders as universities refuse to cooperateon November 25, 2020 at 1:19 pm
Read our COVID-19 research and news. The world’s largest multidisciplinary survey on research integrity is in danger of falling short of its goals after two-thirds of invited institutions declined to ...
- Office of Research Integrity Closed 11/26-11/27on November 18, 2020 at 4:00 pm
The Office of Research Integrity will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 26 and Friday, Nov. 27 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will reopen on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020.
- Report a Research Integrity Concernon November 13, 2020 at 3:59 pm
If you prefer to file a concern online, please fill out and submit the form below. Please enter your first and last name below. If you wish to report your concern anonymously, please type the word ...
- Human Subjects Researchon November 4, 2020 at 4:00 pm
In response to the Sacramento County Health Department's stay at home order, all in-person research is postponed. This does not mean ALL research is postponed, as many projects are continuing ...
- Clarivate Global Research Report Calls for Shared Responsibility in Upholding Research Integrity Through Data, Tech and Open Researchon October 20, 2020 at 11:07 pm
LONDON , Oct. 21, 2020 /CNW/ -- Clarivate Plc (NYSE:CCC), a global leader in providing trusted information and insights to accelerate the pace of innovation, today released a report, " Research ...
- Clarivate Global Research Report Calls for Shared Responsibility in Upholding Research Integrity Through Data, Tech and Open Researchon October 20, 2020 at 10:19 pm
Report exposes tactics used to undermine research integrity - including excessive self-citation, complex plagiarism, and 'fake' peer review - and which tools can combat them LONDON, Oct. 21 ...
- Clarivate Global Research Report Calls for Shared Responsibility in Upholding Research Integrity Through Data, Tech and Open Researchon October 20, 2020 at 6:10 pm
working collaboratively and decisively to protect research integrity amidst a rapidly evolving ecosystem. The report exposes the range of tactics used to subvert research integrity, as well as the ...
- Controlled Substanceson September 30, 2020 at 9:32 pm
At Michigan Tech, all work done with controlled substances must be on file with the Research Integrity Office. obtain the appropriate licenses, use approved purchasing mechanisms, submit for review ...
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