Nine best practices of scientific integrity

A new paper titled Scientific Integrity Principles and Best Practices: Recommendations from a Scientific Integrity Consortium has been published in the journal Science and Engineering Ethics. It is the outcome of discussions from a group led by the International Life Science Institute in early 2017, and it presents a set of recommended principles and best practices to help establish standards of scientific integrity. The group consisted of representatives from government agencies, professional societies, universities, and no-profit research organisations, to represent a wide range of scientific disciplines and community interests.

The article describes two overarching principles that represent the umbrella under which scientific processes should operate, and nine best practices for instilling scientific integrity through their implementation.

The two overarching principles are:

1. Foster a culture of integrity in the scientific process
2. Evidence-based policy interests may have legitimate roles to play in influencing aspects of the research process, but those roles should not interfere with scientific integrity

The nine recommended best practices for fostering scientific integrity are:

1. Require universal training in robust scientific methods, in the use of appropriate experimental design and statistics, and in responsible research practices for scientists at all levels, with the training content regularly updated and presented by qualified scientists
2. Strengthen scientific integrity oversight and processes throughout the research continuum with a focus on training in ethics and conduct
3. Encourage reproducibility of research through transparency
4. Strive to establish open science as the standard operating procedure throughout the scientific enterprise
5. Develop and implement educational tools to teach communication skills that uphold scientific integrity
6. Strive to identify ways to further strengthen the peer review process
7. Encourage scientific journals to publish unanticipated findings that meet standards of quality and scientific integrity
8. Seek harmonization and implementation among journals of rapid, consistent, and transparent processes for correction and/or retraction of published papers
9. Design rigorous and comprehensive evaluation criteria that recognize and reward the highest standards of integrity in scientific research

Each of these principles is fleshed out in full detail in the paper, which is available as open access from the journal.

Since developing this framework in 2018, the group have campaigned for the adoption of the principles, and now intends to collaborate with organisations to explore the development of the items outlined in the checklist, and develop suitable metrics to measure scientific integrity.

Kretser, A., Murphy, D., Bertuzzi, S. et al. Scientific Integrity Principles and Best Practices: Recommendations from a Scientific Integrity Consortium. Sci Eng Ethics (2019) 25: 327.