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Ethics in Research: Promoting Integrity


Specific challenge: Research misconduct mainly became a focus of attention in the 1980's with a few publicised cases in the US. This progressively led to adoption of guidelines and codes of conduct by the scientific community as well as to the set-up of governmental structures. The complexity and diversity of research misconduct, amplified by the expansion of electronic communication still raises serious questions on the capacity of the actors concerned to adequately address the issue.

Scope: As there is no single approach to address research misconduct, the proposals examine the pros and cons of different methods. Among others, the real benefit of IT tools shall be evaluated. Clear figures are required on the number and variety of allegations in EU and other OECD countries, including the percentage of cases where original suspicion is confirmed and leads to some form of sanctions. Additionally, the in-depth study of representative cases shall bring a socio-economic and a psychological dimension which is critical to the design of effective responses. It will also be crucial to assess the possibility to unify the codes, principles and methods at EU and international level. The options to support the self-regulation mechanisms with an adapted legal framework shall also be studied.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of the order of EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact: In the short term, the action will improve the adherence to high standards in research integrity and thereby increase the return on publicly funded research. It will also decrease the number of cases of malpractice and the number of fabrications and cases of false positives in research and innovation results. The action will encourage transparency and ensure reliable knowledge transfer and ethical spill-over from academia to industry. In the medium term, improved research integrity will increase public trust in science and scientists; and boost trust in holders of research-related degrees shall they pursue other community leader position in politics and economics. In the long term, future researchers will be conscious of ethical principles from their educational years. Thereby the number of beneficiaries carrying out action in accordance with principles of research integrity will increase.

Type of action: Coordination and Support Actions.