Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Monday, January 16, 2012

British science needs 'integrity overhaul’

Medical Academics Voice Concern Over Research Misconduct
By Daniel Cressey

British scientists are fundamentally failing to deal with research misconduct, which is widespread in the country, leading experts have warned.

At a conference in London yesterday, participants were united in calling for more action on the issue.

“There is a recognition that we have a problem,” said Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal (BMJ) and one of the driving forces behind the meeting.

Coinciding with the meeting, a BMJ survey of 2,782 doctors and medical academics showed that 13% claimed to have firsthand knowledge of “inappropriately adjusting, excluding, altering or fabricating data”. Six per cent said that they were aware of cases of possible research misconduct at their institutions that they thought had not been properly investigated.

Research-integrity issues in the United Kingdom have long been fretted over. Last year the House of Commons science and technology select committee said that they found “the general oversight of research integrity in the UK to be unsatisfactory”. Similar concerns have been raised by others, going back more than a decade.

Elizabeth Wager, chairwoman of the international Committee on Publication Ethics, warned the meeting that one US editor had told her that UK institutions are the worst to deal with in cases of suspected misconduct. “Our reputation in the world is not looking good,” she said.

She added that although the concern is being driven mainly by medical researchers, their worries apply to other scientific fields.

UK mechanisms for ensuring ethical conduct in research “need to be strengthened”, concluded a communiqué from the meeting. In addition, the meeting said, the UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) should be enhanced, and ongoing funding for it should be secured. (At one point last year, the future financing of UKRIO was unclear, although it now seems to be secure.)

The entire sotry can be found here.