UK research integrity report 'falls short'

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Digital Science has welcomed the UK Parliament Select Committee report on research integrity as an important step towards greater transparency and accountability on research quality.

However, the technology company argues that such action is long overdue, and doesn’t go far enough by leaving the role that research infrastructure providers can play unexamined. It means the research community could miss out on the crucial support those providers offer in the shape of quantitative evidence.

Leslie McIntosh, Vice President of Research Integrity at Digital Science, said: “We welcome the parliamentary committee’s work on the major research reproducibility issues facing the entire community – not just in the UK, but globally – and to set best practice expectations around responsible, reproducible, and transparent research.

“However, as leaders in the research integrity space, with many decades of experience in championing and supporting open, transparent and reproducible research, we believe the report can and should go further.

“Critically, if the report has a limitation, it leaves the role of some parts of the research community – including the roles of research infrastructure and service providers – unexamined. By examining this broader complexity – including, research infrastructure, institutions and service providers – we can see that solutions to future problems will arise. We genuinely need a holistic approach to these issues. With this in mind, it is timely to reflect on Digital Science’s role in supporting research integrity and reproducibility,” McIntosh said.

The report goes on to put the onus on the system and not researchers or other actors for the failings in research processes, pointing to systemic barriers that prevent best practice. At the core of the report’s 28 individual recommendations to solve these issues is the sentiment that “the research community, including research institutions and publishers, should work alongside individuals to create an environment where research integrity and reproducibility are championed”.

“This foundational piece – Research Reproducibility – upholds the integrity scholarship. As funders influence the direction of the research ecosystem, the UK report rightly brings reproducibility to the forefront of research, strengthening one vital pillar of trust in science,” McIntosh said.

A more detailed response from Digital Science to the report can be found in this TL;DR blog post from Vice President of Research Futures Simon Porter: Reproducibility and Research Integrity top UK research agenda.

Digital Science has a range of research tools that enable best practice in research quality and integrity, such as the figshare data repository and the new Dimensions Research Integrity product, which uses the methodology and algorithms developed by Digital Science company Ripeta to examine published papers and identify the hallmarks of responsible science – called ‘Trust Markers’. This step forward has created the world’s largest research integrity dataset by applying the processes to over 33 million publications since 2011, resulting in over 200 million trust marker data points which allow researchers to look at the development over time of the portfolios of research organisations, publishers and funders.

Dimensions Research Integrity is one of the first global datasets on Research Integrity practice to be made available – to see what it looks like and learn more about shifts in the structuring of research papers, more details can be found in the blog post on Digital Science’s new TL;DR website. 

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Chris Graf, Research Integrity Director at Springer Nature

14 June 2024