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Publication of concordat to support research integrity – July 2012


On the 24 January 2012 the EQUATOR Network highlighted a meeting convened by the BMJ and COPE to discuss research misconduct. Since this meeting, a concordat to support research integrity in the UK has been drawn up and signed by the Department of Health, Universities UK, Department of Employment and Learning, Higher Education Funding Council for England, Research Councils UK, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, Scottish Funding Council and the Wellcome Trust. The concordat aims to provide a national framework to ensure that UK research strives to meet the highest possible standards of quality and integrity and outlines five key commitments detailing the different responsibilities of employers, researchers and funders in achieving this. The concordat is available from: concordat to support research integrity

BMJ news item about the concordat

Original news item posted on 24 January 2012

“While plagiarism may be a nasty symptom of a sick system, it has
probably never killed anybody while unreliable guidelines and misguided
research undoubtedly have.”

Earlier in January, the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and the BMJ convened a meeting on research misconduct that was attended by senior representatives from academia, government, funding agencies, and journal publishers.

An important outcome of the meeting was the agreement of delegates that it was not the relatively rare cases of serious scientific fraud that were the most damaging for science. Greater harm stemmed from much more widespread ‘lesser’ offenses, such as selective publishing of research to avoid publishing ‘disappointing’ results or the complete failure to publish any results from a study.

These and similar problems in reporting research studies distort the scientific literature and provide an unreliable base for the development of systematic reviews and clinical practice guidelines.  As Liz Wager writes so beautifully in her BMJ blog “while plagiarism may be a nasty symptom of a sick system, it has probably never killed anybody while unreliable guidelines and misguided research undoubtedly have”.

The consensus reached by meeting delegates, that research misconduct should be defined as “behaviour by a researcher, intentional or not, that falls short of good ethical and scientific standards,” is reported in the BMJ.

Brief articles summarising the meeting appeared in the BMJ and Nature (see references below).  A full meeting report, including a consensus statement, will be published soon on both the COPE website and in the BMJ.


Consensus Statement (Published 16 February 2012)

BMJ Meeting Summary

BMJ editorial on misconduct

BMJ blog on misconduct (by Elizabeth Wager)

Nature Meeting Summary

Nature editorial


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