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Research integrity on the agenda in Brazil

Daniel BuenoConsidered the Latin American leader in research integrity initiatives, Brazil will host the fourth World Congress on Research Integrity in Rio de Janeiro on May 31-June 3, 2015. Researchers and administrators from some 120 public institutions across 43 countries have registered. The focus of this year’s event will be research integrity as it relates to improving practices in science and technology systems. Brazil, which is set to present 13 papers at the conference, will prioritize educational aspects of the topic. This fourth edition of the event has some innovations in store.

One novelty will be workshops and mini-courses for authors and science editors. “FAPESP grant recipients can claim their participation at the event as an unanticipated expense, so long as they register and attend the courses,” says Luiz Henrique Lopes dos Santos, assistant coordinator of the FAPESP Area Panel on Human and Social Sciences and member of the conference planning committee.

Among Brazilian contributions to be presented at the event is a study on the cultural challenges raised by the international approach to research integrity. Now in progress, the research describes the system for training in research ethics that has been adopted by the International Clinical, Operational, and Health Services Research and Training Award project (ICOHRTA), with the financial support of the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “We want to evaluate cultural and local considerations that should be part of courses concerned with research integrity, taking the singularities of different systems of science and technology into account,” explains José Roberto Lapa e Silva, professor at the School of Medicine of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and study coordinator.

This research is part of a major collaborative project initiated in 2002 by Brazilian institutions and US universities, like Johns Hopkins and Cornell. Its goal is to support training for tuberculosis and HIV researchers in the clinical and operational areas. “In addition to this evaluation, the first workshop has already been given to Brazilian researchers from various institutions in the country, most of whom work in the field of clinical medicine,” says Sonia Vasconcelos, professor with the program for Education, Management, and Outreach in Biosciences at UFRJ’s Leopoldo de Meis Institute of Medical Biochemistry and co-author of the study. She is also on the conference planning committee.

Vasconcelos attended the third conference, held last year in Canada. One of the highlights, she says, was the debate on the connection between research integrity and public trust in science. “The topic was well explored during the discussion about the credibility of research results and how this relates to the appropriation of scientific knowledge by peers and to the accuracy of the literature,” she says. In recent years, some institutions have begun investing in meetings and seminars where the topic is discussed, and both extension and graduate-level courses have started to appear.

Vasconcelos cites as examples the Carlos Chagas Filho Biophysics Institute and the Alberto Luiz Coimbra Institute for Graduate Studies and Research in Engineering (Coppe), both part of UFRJ. She also cites the Pontifical Catholic University in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, home to a number of educational initiatives. These activities are in step with the guidelines of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) and also of FAPESP, which in 2011 launched its Code of Good Scientific Practice with the purpose of reinforcing a solid culture of ethical research integrity within São Paulo’s scientific community.

Links to the conference program and to registration are available at

FAPESP grant recipients can claim event participation as an unanticipated expense