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Good practices

Everyone’s responsibility

Daniel BuenoThe Nuffield Council on Bioethics, an institution headquartered in London and founded in 1991 to examine ethical issues related to advances in biomedical research, has released a report containing recommendations on how to foster research integrity; it is directed at research institutions, scientists, science editors, and funding agencies. Among its recommendations, the report suggests that research institutions ensure that early career researchers have a solid foundation in research ethics and that these bodies also provide access to information and training on the topic. Another recommendation is that they pay greater attention to their researchers’ careers and guide them in better planning of their activities. The document states that journal editors have a responsibility to combat research misconduct, especially cases of falsification and plagiarism. Further according to the report, editors should require authors to make their raw data available publicly so other researchers can evaluate and re-use this information. For their part, researchers should keep abreast of codes of ethical conduct in science and share these values with their students or work colleagues.

The British body also recommends that funding agencies provide periodic training for reviewers and for scholarship and grant assessment committee members. The idea is that these professionals should know how to correctly evaluate their peers, in accordance with clear project analysis policies. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics drew up these recommendations after surveying more than one thousand researchers in the United Kingdom in 2014 with the purpose of analyzing the scientific culture in the region. The pressure to publish ever more articles in prestigious journals was a common complaint among respondents. According to the survey, 58% of them said that working under pressure is one of the main factors compromising research integrity. Twenty-six percent said they have felt tempted to commit some transgression because of demands in their work environment.