IMPROVING OUR SCIENTIFIC STANDARDS
There have been several Editorials in Science discussing the problem of promoting a higher set of standards for science. In one article (1), the first way to do this is to discourage honorary authorships (see also End Honorary Authorship
). As the author points out, "Just providing the laboratory space for a project or furnishing a sample used in the research is not sufficient to be included as an author."
Another example of Honorary Authorship is giving credit/praise to your mentor, even though he/she had nothing to do with the specific paper being submitted.
Science is now requiring that the senior author confirm that he or she has personally reviewed the original data generated by the group. This is especially important, since many papers are produced by groups with different expertise, and even different countries.
In a second article (2), the authors report that the Interacademy Council (IAC) and the Interacademy Panel (IAP), the global network of scientific academies, have released a report on responsible behavior in science, since today’s international, interdisciplinary, team-oriented, and technology-intensive research have created an environment more fraught with the potential for error and distortion.
National and international organizations have issued a range of guidelines to ensure Responsible Conduct in Research.
The World Conference on Research Integrity has also issued a Statement
, summarized in part below.
Responsibilities of Researchers
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.
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.
Also, see the article in the New Yorker on Cleaning Up Science
The titles of the suggestion sections are:
Restructure the incentives in science.
Encourage people to publish studies that fail, as well those that succeed.
Recognize that no single study ever proves anything.
Create an ethical code.
Give science some cops.
Why am I pointing out these articles, because I have been a victim of falsifications in science. It was not due to false data, but the ignoring of many published articles that disproved the conclusions in these bad papers (see Falsifications in Science
1. Promoting Scientific Standards, B. Alberts, Science 327, 12, 2010.
2. Responsible Research Conduct, I. Nath and E. Winnacker,
Science 338, 863, 2012
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