Imprimir Republish

Good Practices

Little transparency

A study by the UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) showed that few universities in the United Kingdom publish reports on the investigations they conduct into cases of scientific misconduct, although they are supposed to release that information annually. Since 2013, Universities UK, an organization whose members are British institutions of higher education and research, have required universities to follow guidelines for good scientific practice that call for transparency in investigations and public disclosure of the results.

But that is not what is happening. Of the 27 institutions affiliated with Universities UK that participated in the survey, only one-third published reports in which they outlined the conclusions and described the actions taken in dealing with violations committed by researchers between 2013 and 2014. The study went further—it also chose at random 44 institutions not affiliated with UKRIO. It found that only three (7%) published reports of that type. A total of only 12 reports were identified as having been generated from 21 investigations. In four of them the allegations of misconduct were confirmed. Elizabeth Wager, author of the survey, believes universities feel that public exposure of these cases will hurt their reputations. She told the journal Nature that “properly conducted investigations should be seen as a source of pride, rather than something that might bring shame to the university.”