Briefing paper on research integrity: what it means, why it is important and how we might protect it
Dr Maura Hiney, Chair of the Science Europe Working Group on Research Integrity
Research integrity lies at the heart of excellent science and scholarship. Researchers must be able to trust and build on the work of others; they must also be trusted by society since they provide knowledge and scientific expertise that may impact people’s lives. In the last 20 years some high-profile international cases of research misconduct have come to the fore and these illustrate the damage that misconduct inflicts on research, researchers, institutions and society. Research misconduct also represents a waste of public money invested in research.
This briefing paper looks at developments in efforts to address issues of research integrity. It is not intended to be an exhaustive examination of the growing literature on research integrity. Rather, the paper tries to present exemplars of the evidence and thinking that is emerging in this field. It explores the available data on the frequency of misconduct; why it is thought that researchers would commit misconduct in the first place, given the potential impacts on their careers and those of their students and colleagues; how national and international organisations have approached the promotion of research integrity; and the manner in which allegations of misconduct are handled. The available evidence demonstrates the complexity of this issue and the multiple actors who are required to work individually and collaboratively for its resolution.