National Academies Press: OpenBook

Fostering Integrity in Research (2017)

Chapter: 8 Exploring New Approaches

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Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
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8

Exploring New Approaches

It is key that the public, who directly and indirectly provide the money to fund our research efforts and who are our most important ambassadors in advocating for the importance of scientific investigation, are confident of the processes we have in place. They need to know there is real value in the data that ultimately emerges.

C. Glenn Begley and John P. A. Ioannidis (2015)

Synopsis: This chapter reviews the benefits and costs of improved approaches to addressing research misconduct and detrimental research practices and explores several new approaches considered by the committee.

COSTS AND BENEFITS OF IMPROVED APPROACHES

Chapter 5 discusses the costs and consequences of research misconduct and detrimental research practices (DRPs). These costs are mainly considered from a U.S. perspective, even though it is important to remember that research misconduct and DRPs are global phenomena and that their costs are borne by researchers, institutions, funding agencies, and journals around the world. For research misconduct, costs include the direct financial impact of funding fraudulent work, the indirect costs of supporting research to extend this fraudulent work, and the cost of institutional investigations (one estimate puts this at $110 million per year) (Michalek et al., 2010). A total of several hundred million dollars a year would be a reasonable conservative estimate of the direct financial costs. In addition, there are the human costs of research careers sidetracked or ended and the reputational costs borne by institutions and collaborators. Some cases of fabrication and falsification have contributed to significant negative public health consequences and have also imposed financial and human costs. The historical case of the tobacco industry and the more recent case of vaccines illustrates that these costs may run into the millions or even billions of dollars over a period of years in particular cases.

Chapter 5 also discusses the costs that DRPs impose on the research enterprise. The financial costs of DRPs in the form of funding for research that does not produce reliable knowledge may be even larger than the costs of research misconduct. In addition, much remains to be learned about irreproducibility in research, including the extent to which DRPs are implicated and how significant

Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
×

a problem it is in fields other than those where it is being actively examined, such as biomedical research and social psychology.

In contrast to the costs are the resources being devoted to preventing and otherwise addressing research misconduct and DRPs. Chapter 10 discusses education in the responsible conduct of research (RCR), including topics such as human subjects protection. One crude metric of spending by institutions on RCR education is the amount spent by institutions on subscriptions to the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative at the University of Miami. Annual subscriptions for nonprofit organizations are $3,000, and thousands of institutions around the world subscribe.

The budgets of federal agencies that address research misconduct should also be included in this accounting. For example, the Office of Research Integrity’s (ORI) budget for fiscal 2014 was $8.5 million, which includes its investigative oversight, educational activities, such as support for Research Integrity Officers (RIOs) training, and for research on research integrity (HHS, 2014b). The National Science Foundation Office of the Inspector General’s (NSF-OIG) budget for fiscal year 2014 was $14.3 million, but only a fraction of this goes toward its investigative oversight and review activities. Some NSF awards in its Science and Society grants program go toward efforts related to research integrity. Other federal agencies also devote some resources to RCR education and to oversight of extramural funding.

One relatively new and significant source of support for research and other activity related to fostering research integrity is the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which has awarded more than $80 million since 2011 to a variety of efforts, such as the Center for Open Science activities on reproducibility described above (see www.arnoldfoundation.org/grants/).

To recap, the costs of research misconduct and DRPs likely fall in a range of hundreds of millions to billions per year in monetary costs plus human and reputational costs, while investments in fostering research integrity through education, research, and development and implementation of improved standards and practices can be estimated to total tens of millions of dollars per year. Additional investments that would contribute to lowering the costs that research misconduct and DRPs impose on the research enterprise have the potential for delivering significant returns.

THE RESEARCH INTEGRITY ADVISORY BOARD

The previous chapter reviewed several challenges facing the U.S. research enterprise as stakeholders seek to foster integrity and address research misconduct and DRPs. These include weaknesses and gaps in policies and capabilities for identifying, investigating, and addressing research misconduct; the need to develop and uphold updated research standards and practices in areas such as data sharing in response to technological advances; and the need for evidence-based

Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
×

approaches to strengthening policy implementation, research environments, and incentives so that they better support responsible conduct.

For the most part, these challenges have no quick and easy solutions. They will likely require a continued, long-term effort on the part of all participants in the research enterprise.

For example, research institutions face significant challenges in ensuring that research misconduct allegations are effectively addressed and investigated. The available evidence, including presentations made to the committee, survey research, and specific published cases of deficient institutional responses, including those summarized in Appendix D, illustrate the complexity of these challenges. Addressing the unevenness in institutional policies and capabilities faces inherent obstacles. One source of difficulty is the infrequency at most institutions of cases that advance from the inquiry to the investigation stage. This means that institutional officials at a given time and place may lack hands-on experience with necessary tasks such as sequestering evidence, forming investigation committees with the appropriate expertise, orienting the committees to see the larger stakes beyond the institution and investigator, and ensuring that institutional and federal policies are followed. Effectively addressing the scientific and legal issues raised by research misconduct cases may require specialized knowledge and sensitivity. Institutional investigations can also get sidetracked when concerns about potentially bad publicity for the institution or personal relationships become considerations.

One option that this committee explored and ultimately decided to recommend is the establishment of an independent, nonprofit Research Integrity Advisory Board (RIAB) to help address longer-term challenges such as these. A similar body was recommended by the committee that authored the 1992 Responsible Science report, but the recommendation was never implemented (NAS-NAE-IOM, 1992). This committee considered the basic rationale for the new body, the specific tasks of the RIAB, its organization and funding, and the pros and cons of alternative courses of action.

Functions of the Proposed RIAB That Are Not Being Performed by Existing Institutions

Federal agencies such as ORI and NSF-OIG play an essential role in addressing research misconduct and in related areas. These agencies oversee the investigative and educational activities of institutions through mechanisms that are separated from funding decisions and oversight, which is appropriate for the United States given the need for these agencies to be accountable to Congress. Federal agencies have also made valuable contributions to promoting integrity. These include the development of ORI’s “The Lab: Avoiding Research Misconduct” interactive video, ORI’s efforts to train RIOs, and NSF-OIG’s involvement in efforts such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and

Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
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Development’s Global Science Forum. However, working across disciplines and with various stakeholder groups to develop improved standards and practices relevant to research integrity is not part of their core missions. Also, the bifurcation between ORI’s focus on biomedical research and NSF-OIG’s focus on other fields constitutes a barrier to developing a unified focus on research integrity challenges. For example, much of the research on research integrity issues supported by ORI has naturally focused on conditions and topics within biomedical research, leading to a situation where relatively less is known about other fields and disciplines. Research integrity issues relevant to all federal agencies that fund or perform research need to be addressed by RIAB.

Nongovernmental organizations within the United States and around the world such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Council of Graduate Schools, Association of American Universities, Committee on Publication Ethics, and the world conferences on research integrity are also making important contributions to promote responsible conduct and research integrity. Notwithstanding the value of these efforts, they tend to be ad hoc in nature or focused on specific disciplines or sectors.

The RIAB would provide a vehicle for the research enterprise, including research institutions, to address issues and challenges related to integrity on an ongoing basis across disciplines and sectors. Such issues will undoubtedly continue to arise in the global research environment and will continue to change. The committee hopes that publication of this report will stimulate ongoing dialog. Such a dialog is needed not once every few decades, as evidenced by the span between the 1992 report and this report, but on a continuing basis.

The RIAB would facilitate the exchange of information on approaches to assessing and creating environments of the highest integrity and on the handling of allegations of misconduct and investigations. For example, the effort to assess research environments that was undertaken under the auspices of the Council of Graduate Schools could be continued and expanded. Institutions might be more willing to perform such self-assessments and utilize the resulting data if their own results remain private and they are able to benchmark their environments against the aggregated results of peer institutions. The activity could also aid in the development of institutional best practices and benchmarks for the capabilities needed to respond to allegations and conduct investigations.

The RIAB would also provide advice, support, encouragement, and where helpful, advocacy on what needs to be done by research institutions, science, engineering, technology, and medical journal and book publishers, and other stakeholders in the research enterprise to promote research integrity. The body that was recommended in Responsible Science was expected to perform several functions, including the development of model practices, policies, and procedures for the community; the collection and analysis of data on allegations of misconduct; and the conduct of periodic studies of policies and approaches for fostering research integrity and addressing research misconduct and questionable research

Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
×

practices (NAS-NAE-IOM, 1992). The RIAB recommended by this committee perform some functions that are similar to those anticipated earlier, with adjustments and details altered to incorporate the experience of the past several decades and to account for the contemporary context:

  • Work with public and private research sponsors to develop improved practices and approaches to addressing research misconduct and fostering integrity. For example, the RIAB could serve as a forum for the discussion of issues where no community consensus currently exists (such as what the appropriate penalties for research misconduct should be) or where current disparate approaches should be harmonized (such as the implementation of the federal research misconduct policy in areas such as plagiarism).
  • Work with science, engineering, technology, and medical journal and book publishers to develop improved practices and approaches. The biannual Journal Summit organized by the National Academy of Sciences generates a number of useful ideas that could be explored further by RIAB.
  • Identify important topics and questions related to research misconduct and research integrity, including pathways to improve research environments and RCR education, where research could produce valuable insights, and perhaps serve as a mechanism for commissioning such research.
  • Work with research institutions, institutional officials, and groups such as the new Association of Research Integrity Officers to identify and develop resources aimed at improving institutional capability to respond to research misconduct allegations and sustain environments that encourage responsible conduct. These resources could include just-in-time training materials, referrals to experts with relevant scientific and/or legal knowledge who could be consulted on specific cases, and help with organizing external review of investigation committee task statements and investigation reports.

As with the 1992 report, the RIAB recommended here will have no direct role in investigations, regulation, or accreditation. Rather, it will serve as a neutral resource based in the research enterprise that helps the research enterprise foster integrity in a changing environment.

Structure, Organization, and Funding

The committee discussed several alternative organizational and funding structures for the RIAB and concluded that the RIAB would work best as an independent nonprofit organization supported by dues-paying members. While the RIAB would benefit from federal support and participation, its functions and

Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
×

activities are clearly nongovernmental, so it should not be established as a federal entity. Likewise, housing the RIAB within one of the existing organizations that represent higher education institutions would impair its ability to be responsive to all relevant constituencies.

Several organizational alternatives to a stand-alone, independent RIAB were considered. One option would be for the RIAB to be affiliated with a federally funded research and development center such as the Science and Technology Policy Institute, a policy analysis organization of the Institute for Defense Analyses that works with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Science Board, and other federal entities. However, since the RIAB’s activities would not focus primarily on policy analysis, and affiliation with a federally funded research and development center would imply reliance on federal funding, such an arrangement would not be a good fit.

Another possibility explored by the committee would be for the RIAB to be affiliated with, or its functions performed by, the proposed Research Policy Board (RPB). In 2015 a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommended that the RPB be created to serve as an “analytical, anticipatory, and coordinating forum on regulatory matters” affecting research universities (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2016). The proposed RPB would be situated outside government yet involve both research universities and federal agencies in its activities. However, the committee does not believe that having the RPB take on the tasks and functions of the RIAB would be an acceptable alternative. The RPB would have a broad mandate regarding regulatory issues affecting research universities, making it difficult to maintain a consistent focus on research integrity issues. The RPB would also have a closer relationship with federal agencies than would be desirable for the RIAB.

The committee believes that the RIAB could function effectively with a small permanent staff of three or four people, supplemented by fellows and consultants. An annual budget of about $3 million would be adequate. The RIAB would be governed by its members, with a rotating executive committee selected to develop strategy and oversee operations. Funding would come in the form of regular contributions from members such as the major public and private sponsors of research (NSF, NIH, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and others), universities and other research institutions, industrial members, scientific societies, and science, engineering, technology, and medical journal and book publishers. Contribution amounts could be set at different levels depending on organizational types or sizes. For example, the contributions from research institutions could be set as a percentage of their annual research activity.

The ability of the RIAB to attract member participation and support would be an encouraging indicator that the community sees it as a mechanism that can help the community address the problems and issues identified in this report.

Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
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Consideration of Alternatives

The committee also considered alternatives to setting up the RIAB or a similar body. One alternative would be to maintain the status quo, which has been characterized by reactive, ad hoc responses to high-profile cases. The status quo approach would guarantee that the research enterprise and its components do not have a mechanism that facilitates improved performance over time. It also means that there would be no organizational focus on lowering the risk that future research misconduct cases and detrimental research practices will cause serious damage to the enterprise in terms of lost credibility, wasted resources, harms to research subjects, and a slower advance of knowledge.

Another alternative would be for federal agencies to develop a more extensive framework of regulations covering institutions in the area of research integrity. For example, institutions could be required to form committees on research integrity similar to the institutional review boards that oversee experiments on human subjects. Certification and related training could be required for those holding specific positions of responsibility in institutions, such as research integrity officers. Institutions could be required to submit detailed annual reports on their RCR educational programs and related efforts. Research funding could be tied to compliance.

The committee rejected an approach relying on increased regulatory oversight of institutions for several reasons. First, during the course of the study, the committee observed that the framing and discussion of research integrity issues still tend to be focused on reacting to individual, high-profile cases of misconduct. The committee believes that more focus and effort should be devoted to encouraging integrity, rather than just reacting to misconduct, than is the case today. Adopting an enhanced regulatory approach would represent a move in the opposite direction. Second, the costs of enhanced regulatory approaches in terms of resources and institutional staff and faculty time are significant and certain, while the benefits are more difficult to estimate and cannot be guaranteed. It also is not clear that such an approach would improve institutional performance across the board. Third, institutions already carry heavy regulatory burdens related to research (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2016). Adding to these burdens could have the effect of undermining scientific productivity throughout the system.

Considering International Examples

International examples exist that might inform the establishment of the RIAB and its functions. For example, several countries have established research integrity organizations that are independent of government or represent collaboration among the nation’s primary funding agency, the national science academy, and the national association of research universities. In addition to promoting research integrity, some of these bodies have an investigatory or adjudicatory function.

Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
×

For example, the National Board for Research Integrity in the Netherlands hears appeals of the findings of institutional investigations. The RIAB recommended here (and in 1992) would not perform any investigatory or adjudicatory functions.

Another international example comes from a 2010 report of the Council of Canadian Academies recommending that a Canadian Council for Research Integrity be established (CCA, 2010). The Council for Research Integrity would have been charged with providing confidential advice, gathering and reporting information, and developing best practices in education and assessment. In 2011, Canada adopted a Tri-Agency Framework: Responsible Conduct of Research and has established the Secretariat on Responsible Conduct of Research, which performs some of these functions, but also carries other responsibilities that would not be taken up by the RIAB related to human subjects protections and to reviewing institutional investigation reports on behalf of Canada’s research funding councils (SRCR, 2016).

The United Kingdom Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) is an independent advisory organization that has a structure and purpose that are relevant to the RIAB (UKRIO, 2017). Launched in 2006, UKRIO is an independent nonprofit that aims to “(1) Promote the good governance, management and conduct of academic, scientific and medical research, (2) Share good practice on how to address poor practice, misconduct and unethical behavior, and (3) Give confidential, independent and expert advice on specific research projects, cases, problems and issues.”

The committee is not aware that any formal evaluation of UKRIO and its effectiveness has been done. It does much of its work in confidential, behind-the-scenes settings. In the aftermath of prominent UK research integrity cases, particularly the measles, mumps, rubella virus–autism case (see Appendix D), there have been calls for stronger institutional responses to research misconduct in the United Kingdom (Dyer, 2011). It is important to note that the UK’s research funding bodies, the research councils, have no organizational equivalents to ORI or NSF-OIG that can require institutions to respond to misconduct allegations relating to publicly funded research.

STRENGTHENING AUTHORSHIP STANDARDS AND PRACTICES

What additional steps should stakeholders in the research enterprise take to address the challenges discussed in Chapter 7? For example, how should detrimental research practices related to authorship, such as coercive authorship, gift authorship, and unacknowledged ghost authorship, be discouraged and reduced? These practices impair the usefulness and reliability of authorship as the central institution for assigning credit for reported work, fixing responsibility for that work’s quality and integrity, and communicating critical information that allows other researchers to replicate, extend, and where necessary, correct that work.

The status quo is increasingly problematic. Although some disciplines have

Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
×

developed clear guidelines, authorship practices and conventions are largely left to individual institutions and journals. Greater clarity at the disciplinary level about the roles that merit authorship, the contributions that do not merit authorship, the significance of author order, and the responsibilities of a primary or corresponding author would be very helpful in facilitating appropriate decisions and practices in labs and collaborations. Universal condemnation (i.e., by all disciplines) of gift or honorary authorship, coercive authorship, and ghost authorship would also contribute to changing the culture of research environments where these practices are still accepted. Universal adoption of the requirement that all authorship roles be disclosed, as is the case for a growing number of journals, and commitment to the principle that all contributors who merit authorship should be listed would also be positive steps.

A Framework for Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Authorship Standards

As discussed above, a number of scientific societies, journals, associations, and research institutions have developed or updated their authorship criteria and guidelines in recent years. Some of these criteria and guidelines explicitly call for an end to such practices as ghost and gift authorship.

We have good examples of authorship guidelines and standards set at the field or disciplinary level or by individual journals. Standards may also describe the responsibilities of authors in areas such as data sharing, as well as the roles and responsibilities of reviewers. For example, the journal Neurology has a very detailed set of authorship guidelines on its “Information for Authors” page (Neurology, 2016). The World Association of Medical Editors and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors also have developed authorship standards. As explained above, these standards have some important differences. The committee favors an approach that authorship should be established through a significant intellectual contribution to the work in at least one area, such as planning, performing, analyzing, or writing. All authors should have the opportunity to approve the final manuscript.

The committee recognizes that flexibility in the development and implementation of authorship guidelines is needed due to the significant differences between disciplines. For example, in many disciplines, research is performed in complex collaborations of large, distributed groups that perform highly specialized tasks. The recent article reporting on the first observation of gravitational waves, which had been hypothesized by Einstein, is a good example of such work (Abbott et al., 2016). The article has around 1,000 authors. In such efforts, researchers who perform critical tasks in conceptualizing the work or parts of the work may not participate in collecting or analyzing data. Likewise, it is impractical for hundreds or thousands of coauthors to play meaningful roles in writing or editing a journal article. Disciplines need to be able to define for themselves what a significant intellectual contribution is. Also, manuscript approval and

Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
×

specification of author roles may need to be implemented by groups or subgroups of authors through a defined procedure rather than by individuals.

The process of developing and promulgating authorship guidelines may differ by discipline. For example, the Guidelines for Responsible Conduct Regarding Scientific Communication adopted by the Society for Neuroscience (SfN, 2010) are very detailed and cover a range of issues. An SfN working group developed the guidelines, which were approved by the SfN Council. Other fields and disciplines might also develop standards through a leading society, through a coalition of societies and journals, or through another process aimed at ensuring broad buy-in by the community. Standards could also be developed in interdisciplinary areas where there is enough research activity and enough disparity in practices between the collaborating disciplines to warrant such a step. In developing interdisciplinary standards, scientific societies, interdisciplinary journals (e.g., Science, Nature, PNAS, PLOS), and sponsors of interdisciplinary research can play important roles.

Research institutions can make an important contribution to stronger authorship standards. A number of institutions already have adopted guidelines that prohibit practices such as guest or honorary authorship, with Harvard Medical School (1999) being a good example.

The committee believes that the widespread development and dissemination of such standards will make a significant contribution to research integrity, and urges the research enterprise to continue and accelerate progress.

The following framework for developing authorship standards outlines several baseline requirements and might be useful to disciplines that are developing or updating their standards. At the same time, the framework is flexible enough to accommodate the significant differences that exist between disciplines in their authorship practices. The committee recommends that disciplines adopt standards compatible with this framework.

Standards should specify the appropriate roles that merit designation as an author:

  • Substantial intellectual contribution to conceiving, designing, or planning the research to be reported;
  • Substantial intellectual contribution to acquiring, analyzing, or interpreting the primary data;
  • Substantial intellectual contribution to drafting or revising the article reporting the research in question.

Standards should specify the contributions that do not merit authorship but may merit acknowledgment and/or citation:

  • Securing funding for the research;
  • Providing general supervisory or administrative support for the research;
Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
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  • Technical writing, editing, and proofreading of the article reporting the research;
  • Making available data collected for previously reported work, or providing materials or specimens.

Standards should explicitly identify detrimental authorship practices that are unacceptable:

  • Gift or honorary authorship, coercive authorship, and ghost authorship.

Standards should also specify:

  • That all authors should approve the final manuscript;
  • That one or more authors who are accountable for the entire work should be identified;
  • That the roles of each of the listed authors should be specified, including which authors or groups of authors are responsible for which aspects of the reported work;
  • The types of work being covered by the standards (e.g., only primary research articles or other types of work as well);
  • The process for gaining approval of articles for publication and the principle underlying the approval process (e.g., all listed authors must individually approve a manuscript prior to submission, or an alternative approval mechanism for large collaborations);
  • The meaning of “substantial intellectual contributions” to relevant research in that discipline;
  • The significance (if any) of author order.

Alternative Approaches

The committee considered several alternatives to its recommended approach. One possible alternative would be for this committee or another body to develop and implement a more detailed uniform authorship standard across all disciplines. As covered above in the discussion considering whether forms of authorship misrepresentation other than plagiarism should be included in a revised federal research misconduct definition, developing a uniform authorship standard that would be meaningful and at the same time applicable to current conditions in all fields and disciplines would be impractical and probably counterproductive.

Another alternative would be to move away from the concept of authorship entirely toward a new principle for assigning credit and responsibility for reported research. The institution of authorship within research emerged with the first scientific journals in 17th-century Europe. From that time until fairly recently, the predominant mode of research production was for an individual investigator to report on experiments or observations, perhaps assisted by students, in a laboratory or field setting. As discussed in Chapter 3, some research still fits this

Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
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TABLE 8-1 Project CRediT Terms

Contributor Role Role Definition
Conceptualization Ideas; formulation or evolution of overarching research goals and aims.
Methodology Development or design of methodology; creation of models.
Software Programming, software development; designing computer programs; implementation of the computer code and supporting algorithms; testing of existing code components.
Validation Verification, whether as a part of the activity or separate, of the overall replication/reproducibility of results/experiments and other research outputs.
Formal analysis Application of statistical, mathematical, computational, or other formal techniques to analyze or synthesize study data.
Investigation Conducting a research and investigation process, specifically performing the experiments, or data/evidence collection.
Resources Provision of study materials, reagents, materials, patients, laboratory samples, animals, instrumentation, computing resources, or other analysis tools.
Data curation Management activities to annotate (produce metadata), scrub data, and maintain research data (including software code, where it is necessary for interpreting the data itself) for initial use and later reuse.
Writing—original draft preparation Creation and/or presentation of the published work, specifically writing the initial draft (including substantive translation).
Writing—review and editing Preparation, creation, and/or presentation of the published work by those from the original research group, specifically critical review, commentary, or revision—including pre- or postpublication stages.
Visualization Preparation, creation, and/or presentation of the published work, specifically visualization/data presentation.
Supervision Oversight and leadership responsibility for the research activity planning and execution, including mentorship external to the core team.
Project administration Management and coordination responsibility for the research activity planning and execution.
Funding acquisition Acquisition of the financial support for the project leading to this publication.

Source: Brand et al., 2015.

Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
×

traditional paradigm, but a growing proportion of scientific activity does not. The past several decades have seen a notable shift toward larger teams, collaborations between groups dispersed throughout the world, and increased specialization. The challenges that the research enterprise faces in the area of authorship are exacerbated by a tension between the conventions of authorship, which assume a unitary authority who can vouch for the entirety of the work, will receive most of the credit for it, and decide who else will be recognized and how, and the way a significant fraction of research activity is actually undertaken today.

Some experts have advocated that the institution of authorship be replaced by a new concept known as contributorship. In a contributorship framework, all the contributions to reported work are identified within an agreed taxonomy. An example of work in this area is the Contributor Roles Taxonomy project (Project CRediT), which was launched following a 2010 workshop at Harvard University and aims to “provide transparency to the contributions of researchers to scholarly published work, to enable discoverability and to improve attribution, credit, and accountability” (CASRAI, 2016). Table 8-1 shows an early version of the contributorship taxonomy (Brand et al., 2015). It specifies a number of roles that are included in traditional definitions of authorship, such as conceptualization and validation, and also lists contributions such as securing funding and general supervision that are not considered appropriate author roles but might be included in acknowledgments today. The taxonomy is now being tested; Cell Press is encouraging authors to describe their contributions in this way.

An additional advantage of contributorship is that it would take advantage of the emerging digital infrastructure that automates recognition and verification systems through mechanisms like unique author (or contributor) identifiers. These systems have the potential to connect researchers with their research products so that datasets and other nonarticle contributions can be more easily utilized, and researchers who make these contributions can receive credit (CASRAI, 2016). Since the contributorship approach is inherently more transparent and less hierarchical than traditional authorship, moving in this direction might ameliorate some of the problems that have been identified in recent years related to misuse of bibliometric indicators such as the Journal Impact Factor (Alberts, 2013).

The committee believes that Project CRediT and other efforts to develop new models to modify or replace authorship are worthwhile and have the potential to make a significant contribution. They can help improve the transparency and accuracy of how credit and accountability for scientific work are assigned and recognized. The committee decided not to recommend that the research enterprise adopt the contributorship concept at this time, due to concern about including traditional author roles and other contributions within a single framework. Some committee members also strongly believe that a credit/responsibility framework for science needs to identify one or more individuals who are accountable for the entire work.

Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
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Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
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Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
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Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
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Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
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Suggested Citation:"8 Exploring New Approaches." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Fostering Integrity in Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/21896.
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Next: Part Three: Fostering Integrity in Research »
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The integrity of knowledge that emerges from research is based on individual and collective adherence to core values of objectivity, honesty, openness, fairness, accountability, and stewardship. Integrity in science means that the organizations in which research is conducted encourage those involved to exemplify these values in every step of the research process. Understanding the dynamics that support – or distort – practices that uphold the integrity of research by all participants ensures that the research enterprise advances knowledge.

The 1992 report Responsible Science: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process evaluated issues related to scientific responsibility and the conduct of research. It provided a valuable service in describing and analyzing a very complicated set of issues, and has served as a crucial basis for thinking about research integrity for more than two decades. However, as experience has accumulated with various forms of research misconduct, detrimental research practices, and other forms of misconduct, as subsequent empirical research has revealed more about the nature of scientific misconduct, and because technological and social changes have altered the environment in which science is conducted, it is clear that the framework established more than two decades ago needs to be updated.

Responsible Science served as a valuable benchmark to set the context for this most recent analysis and to help guide the committee’s thought process. Fostering Integrity in Research identifies best practices in research and recommends practical options for discouraging and addressing research misconduct and detrimental research practices.

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