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The European Science Foundation (ESF) and the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity (ORI) have organised the first World Conference on Research Integrity in Lisbon, Portugal (Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation,
16-19 September 2007).
The Research Integrity World Conference was supported by the European Commission and hosted by the Portuguese Ministry for Science, Technology and Higher Education (MCTES), through the Portuguese Foundation for Science (FCT) and the Gabinete de Relações Internacionais da Ciência e do Ensino Superior (GRICES) in collaboration with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (FCG), as part of the forthcoming EU Portuguese Presidency.
The ESF and ORI have worked together as co-organisers for this event, in partnership with the International Council of Science (ICSU) and NATO and with additional financial support from the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), the UK Research Integrity Office and the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). The support from ICSU and NATO was in the form of travel grants for some attendees from non-OECD countries and observer countries and from the NATO Partner Countries and Mediterranean Dialogue Countries respectively. There was also some limited support available for younger researchers to attend.
There is a close link between the Conference and its Planning Committee with the parallel and linked activity on research misconduct of the OECD Global Science Forum (report PDF 164 KB).
Research Integrity has emerged in recent years as a critical topic in policy research and has gained significant political and public attention worldwide. To further world dialogue on this topic, the World Conference has focused attention on systemic and institutional issues, including organizational, governance and legal issues. A parallel activity by the OECD Global Science Forum (GSF) is studying governmental responses to the issue of research misconduct.
Research regulations and commonly accepted research practices vary significantly from country to country and among professional organisations. There is no common definition world-wide for research misconduct, conflict of interest or plagiarism. Even where there is general agreement on key elements of research behaviour, such as the need to restrict authorship to individuals who make substantive contributions to the research or to provide protection for research subjects, the policies that implement this agreement can vary widely from country to country and organization to organization. The research community worldwide had to address these problems in order to retain public confidence and to establish a clear best practice frameworks at an international level, especially at a time when there are increased pressures on governments, research institutions and research groups to deliver results against increasingly short timeframes, to which funding is coupled. The September 2007 Conference represents has been the initial effort to begin discussing and to establish a framework for continued discussion of research integrity on a global level.
The World Conference on Research Integrity was the first global forum convened to provide researchers, research administrators, research sponsors, journal editors, representatives from professional societies, policymakers, and others an opportunity to discuss strategies for harmonizing research misconduct policies and fostering responsible conduct in research.
To promote discussion on the widest possible level, participation from all sectors of the research system had been sought, including senior research practitioners, leaders of major research groups, institute and university senior managers, senior decision makers from research funding organisations (public agencies and private research funding foundations), officials charged with developing policy to address research integrity at the government level and representatives from journals, especially the scientific press. Attendance was limited and by invitation to ensure geographical and experience balances.
The conference took place in the presence of Professor José-Mariano Gago, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Portugal, and Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for Research.