14. September 2007 14:51

World Conference on Research Integrity to Foster Responsible Research

Addressing the urgent need for fighting fraud, forgery and plagiarism in science world-wide, the very first World Conference on Research Integrity is set to facilitate an unprecedented global effort to foster responsible research in Lisbon, Portugal from 16 to 19 September 2007.

The controversies surrounding the recent assessment report of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change demonstrates how research integrity is a critical issue not only for the science community, but for politicians and the society as a whole as well. In August 2007 the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had to withdraw previous published historical climate data. The incident came after a British mathematician discovered that the sources used by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) have disregarded the positions of weather stations, plus intentionally using outdated data on China from 1991 and ignoring revised data on the country from 1997.

Now 350 concerned scientists, scientific managers and magazine editors from around the world are scheduled to attend the event in Lisbon, initiated and organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the US Office for Research Integrity (ORI). It marks a milestone for the science community as it will link all those concerned parties in a global effort to tackle the issue head on.
”At the very least, countries should know how misconduct will be handled in other countries and whom to contact if they have questions. A more ambitious goal is to begin to harmonize global policies relating to research integrity,” says Conference Co-Chair Nicholas Steneck from the University of Michigan.

“By now there are no consistent global standards for defining and responding to major misconduct in research. Definitions and practices vary from country to country and even institution to institution. Improper practices that could be ignored in one country could get a researcher dismissed from a position in another country,” Steneck adds.

The conference will be focusing on both individual and institutions’ responsibilities, and of funding agencies as well as publishers, according to Conference Co-Chair Tony Mayer from the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. Mayer is also the former Senior Science Policy Adviser to the ESF.

Jose-Mariano Gago, the Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Janez Potocnik, the European Commissioner for Research, Angel Gurría, the Secretary-General, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and Tim Hunt from the Cancer Research UK, South Mimms will kick off the event by participating in the opening talks. .

In his keynote address, Paul David form the Oxford University, UK, and Stanford University, Palo Alto, U.S., will give an overview on analytical and empirical studies of ORI on the problem of scientific misconduct. David is well known for his research in the economics of science and technology, with special reference to the impact of intellectual property rights protections on the direction and conduct of ‘open science’ research.

Howard Alper, Professor of Chemistry and Vice-President Research at the University of Ottawa, and winner of the first Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal in Science and Engineering, Canada’s most prestigious award for science and engineering, is also affiliated with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, because he is also an expert in the situations in developing and emerging countries. From his experiences he presents the best practices for the benefit of a society.

Herbert Gottweis from the Institute of Political Sciences, University of Vienna, Austria, will reconsider the Hwang gate from 2005 and present the lessons learned. Gottweis is vice-president of the Austrian Research Fund (FWF) and coordinator of the PAGANINI (“Participatory Governance and Institutional Innovation“) project of the European Union.

The conference will also touch on the situation in developing and emerging countries, where scientists often have to produce publications in numbers under pressure to achieve the formal scientific qualifications. Thus voices from Africa, like that from Amaboo Dhai, University of the Witwatersrand Medical School, Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics, Parktown, South Africa, will also be heard. In addition, Annette Flanagin of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and Muza Gondwe, University of Malawi, College of Medicine, Blantyre, will contribute their experiences from the „African Journal Partnership Project“. Flanagin is the author of the JAMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors, now in it’s 10th edition.

In other words the World Conference on Research Integrity focuses on an open sore of science, taking into consideration the reality, legal and institutional aspects, as well as regional, social and psychological environments in which scientists work.It intends to be the beginning of the healing process.

For more information on the conference please click here and here

Notes for editors:

Live news and photos from the event will be posted on the ESF Media Centre

Media contact:

Mr. Thomas LauE-Mail