Observations Publication Ethics

The UK should lead the way on research integrity

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f2348 (Published 22 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2348
  1. Elizabeth Wager, publications consultant, Princes Risborough, UK
  1. liz{at}sideview.demon.co.uk

The UK does better than some other European countries, but there is no room for complacency

A recent study from the University of Leuven bemoaned the lack of regulation of research integrity in European countries.1 Twelve countries had no guidelines, it found, and even when guidelines existed they were often hard to locate or inconsistent. A map categorising countries by how they handled misconduct neatly illustrated the confusion. Along with Germany and Sweden, the United Kingdom fell into the second best category: countries with a “national framework.” Only Denmark and Norway were in the top category of countries that had a framework established by law.

There is clearly no room for complacency in Europe, but can we at least take comfort from the fact that the UK is doing better than some other countries? Before we start congratulating ourselves, we should remember that the so called “national framework” in the UK actually consists of a voluntary agreement that doesn’t cover all funders and has no central mechanism or funding for enforcement. Along with many others I welcomed Universities UK’s publication of the Concordat to Support Research Integrity in July 2012.2 3 It’s an excellent document, but that’s all it is: a piece of paper. It’s good that it has been endorsed by many major funders, such …

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