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Good practices

Monitoring misconduct investigations

A report released on July 11 by the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons, the lower house of British parliament, suggested establishing a committee to monitor university investigations into misconduct. The recommendation seeks to address the lack of adherence among higher education and research institutions to the scientific integrity guidelines adopted in the UK six years ago, a problem identified in the report itself. Politicians contacted representatives of 136 universities to ask if they release information on the number of cases of scientific misconduct investigated each year, a commitment to transparency assumed by all institutions in 2012 as part of a pact on scientific integrity.

One in four of the institutions replied that they did not publish annual statements on the matter, with some claiming that such information could compromise their public image. Countries such as Australia and Canada already have agencies that monitor investigations, and China has recently announced that its Ministry of Science and Technology will be overseeing this task. “Establishing a new national Research Integrity Committee is crucial,” Norman Lamb, member of parliament and chairman of the committee responsible for the report, told the journal Nature.