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UK Committee on Research Integrity newsletter, November 2023

October committee meeting

The UK Committee on Research Integrity spent three days in Dublin and Belfast in October learning from and sharing with colleagues.

We had a very productive meeting in Dublin at Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). Thank you to our colleagues from the SFI and the National Research Integrity Forum for hosting us and discussing key priorities. It was exciting to hear about the efforts of our Irish colleagues to embed research integrity throughout the research lifecycle. 

We were then delighted to meet in the beautiful Lanyon Building at Queen’s University Belfast for our formal committee meeting. We had good and purposeful discussions, and an excellent presentation from James Dillon on the particular circumstances for research in Northern Ireland.

In the meeting we discussed progress on all our current workstreams; research indicators, research misconduct, artificial intelligence, understanding the blockers and enablers of research integrity and improving the discipline-specific articulations of rigour. We also looked at future governance and how the committee could assess its effectiveness.

The following day the committee had organised a roundtable with colleagues from across the Northern Ireland research system. We owe huge thanks to them for both attending and participating so actively in the discussions around indicators and accountability. The roundtable was the first in a series on indicators, the others of which have been detailed in the newsletter.

The committee agreed that in-person meetings had real value and that it was ‘good to get together’. Thanks to Louise Dunlop and her colleagues for hosting, and to the secretariat for excellent work in preparing documents, meetings and general coordination.

Jeremy Watson, UK Committee on Research Integrity member

Research integrity indicators project

Would you like to help us consider and potentially co-create indicators for research integrity? We are seeking participants for our stakeholder workshops to be held on the following dates 15 January (London), 24 January (online), and 26 February (Manchester).

If you would like to be involved in this phase of the project, which builds upon the work of Research Consulting, commissioned by UKRI, GuildHE and Cancer Research UK, please fill in this expression of interest form by 14 December. Places are limited so we encourage you to apply early.

We are using the iNorms SCOPE evaluation framework to guide this phase of the project. The SCOPE approach includes an in-depth consideration of the different impacts, and ways in which, research integrity indicators might be used, for example:

  • the potential burden they might create for researchers and research administrators
  • their unintended uses and consequences, such as for institutional ranking

We plan to consider these potential consequences and impacts by co-creating indicators with relevant stakeholders. To help us achieve this goal, we have recently appointed an advisory group for this project to bring together expertise on metrics and indicators, research and research management, social responsibility, and EDI, and from across a range of academic disciplines.

REF People, Culture and Environment roundtable

The committee would like to extend warm thanks to everyone who attended the roundtable event on Tuesday 21st November. It generated great discussion and raised some excellent points which will inform our submission to the consultation. The roundtable was opened by Steven Hill from Research England who introduced the proposed changes and discussed the thinking behind these. The group then split into breakout rooms facilitated by members of the committee to discuss evidence of research integrity governance at an institutional level, evidence of the conditions that enable good practice and integrity, and the integrity of the REF assessment process.

We had a lot of interest in the session and unfortunately were not able to accommodate everyone. Places were allocated on a first come, first served basis and we’re sorry to anyone who wanted to contribute but were unable to. We hope you will consider participating in our research integrity indicators workshops mentioned above.

Enablers and inhibitors of research integrity

We are pleased to announce that we have commissioned the UK Reproducibility Network, the UK Research Integrity Office, and the Science Policy Research Unit to carry out a review of the available published information on enablers and inhibitors of research integrity. More information can be found on our website. We expect to publish the report in the new year.

Research misconduct working group

The project led by committee members is progressing at pace. The cross-sector working group meets every 1 to 2 months. There are already several themes arising from this work and over the next few months we will be commissioning a piece of work looking at international approaches to addressing research misconduct and regulation and assurance in non-research sectors. You can find the working group’s terms of reference and membership on our website.

Case studies

We have published two new cases in our series on approaches and initiatives from across the research system. You can read them on the resources page of our website.

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