Image credit: The Straits Times
The Chivalry of Scientific Research
Scientific research exists as long as science does. For centuries people around the world were making an effort to help us better understand everything that is happening around us and to ensure the progress of humanity. Unfortunately, not always the goals are as pure and noble. Greed or thirst for fame leads to lower research standards or misleading results. This is the reason Research Integrity has become one of the most important topics in the scientific world.
The Role of Trust
Science has always had an immense impact on human life. This is the reason Trust is probably one of the most important things each scientist needs to build. They need to be trusted both by their fellow researchers, who might use the results of their research to build on and by the general population who still sometimes looks at science with superstition. This is the reason Research Misconduct needs to be opposed everywhere and at all costs. The so-called FFP: Fabrication of data - or making up results; Falsification of Data - or manipulating results and Plagiarism - appropriation of other people's ideas without giving due credit, can be rooted out only when people always adhere to certain principles. There have been many attempts for their codification, but the US National Institute of Health probably summarizes them the best in their Policy & Compliance guidelines in 4 words: Honesty, Accuracy, Efficiency, and Objectivity.
The Singapore Statement
During the second World Conference on Research Integrity in 2010, representatives of 51 countries took an important step towards making Research Integrity a global scientific principle by drafting the Singapore Statement, which clearly states 14 responsibilities that each person conducting research should consider:
1. Integrity: Researchers should take responsibility for the trustworthiness of their research. 2. Adherence to Regulations:
Researchers should be aware of and adhere to regulations and policies related to research.
3. Research Methods: Researchers should employ appropriate research methods, base conclusions on critical analysis of the evidence, and report findings and interpretations fully and objectively.
4. Research Records: Researchers should keep clear, accurate records of all research in ways that will allow verification and replication of their work by others.
5. Research Findings: Researchers should share data and findings openly and promptly, as soon as they have had an opportunity to establish priority and ownership claims.
6. Authorship: Researchers should take responsibility for their contributions to all publications, funding applications, reports, and other representations of their research. Lists of authors should include all those and only those who meet applicable authorship criteria.
Image credit: UMass Lowell
7. Publication Acknowledgement: Researchers should acknowledge in publications the names and roles of those who made significant contributions to the research, including writers, funders, sponsors, and others, but do not meet authorship criteria.
8. Peer Review: Researchers should provide fair, prompt, and rigorous evaluations and respect confidentiality when reviewing others' work.
9. Conflict of Interest: Researchers should disclose financial and other conflicts of interest that could compromise the trustworthiness of their work in research proposals, publications, and public communications as well as in all review activities.
10. Public Communication: Researchers should limit professional comments to their recognized expertise when engaged in public discussions about the application and importance of research findings and clearly distinguish professional comments from opinions based on personal views.
11. Reporting Irresponsible Research Practices: Researchers should report to the appropriate authorities any suspected research misconduct, including fabrication, falsification or plagiarism, and other irresponsible research practices that undermine the trustworthiness of research, such as carelessness, improperly listing authors, failing to report conflicting data or the use of misleading analytical methods.
12. Responding to Irresponsible Research Practices: Research institutions, as well as journals, professional organizations, and agencies that have commitments to research, should have procedures for responding to allegations of misconduct and other irresponsible research practices and for protecting those who report such behavior in good faith. When misconduct or other irresponsible research practice is confirmed, appropriate actions should be taken promptly, including correcting the research record.
13. Research Environments: Research institutions should create and sustain environments that encourage integrity through education, clear policies, and reasonable standards for advancement while fostering work environments that support research integrity.
14. Societal Considerations: Researchers and research institutions should recognize that they have an ethical obligation to weigh societal benefits against risks inherent in their work