Helping institutions tackle research misconduct

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e5402 (Published 10 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5402
  1. Aniket Tavare, clinical fellow,
  2. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief
  1. 1BMJ, London WC1H 9JR, UK
  1. atavare{at}bmj.com

Funders must put into action their plans to make good practice a condition of funding

Research misconduct is defined as behaviour by a researcher, intentional or not, that falls short of good ethical and scientific standards.1 It is difficult to know how prevalent misconduct is, but evidence suggests that it happens frequently.2 Although the United Kingdom punches above its weight in scientific output, it lags behind other countries in taking research misconduct seriously.3

In January 2012, the BMJ and the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) held a high level meeting attended by senior figures from academia, government, funding agencies, and journals to discuss the UK’s lack of a concerted approach to research misconduct.4 Delegates agreed that the UK’s mechanisms for ensuring good research conduct and investigating research misconduct lacked robustness. The consensus statement from the meeting concluded that “institutions have direct responsibility . . . to ensure good research conduct, and funders have a duty to hold institutions to account.”5

Now, the two bodies representing universities and funders, Universities UK and Research Councils UK, have published a concordat to support research integrity.6 In outlining the responsibilities of researchers, institutions, and funders, it says that institutions are expected to have clear procedures in place to deal with allegations of misconduct; provide protection …

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