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Research Misconduct International Issues Christine C. Boesz, Dr.P.H. Inspector General National Science Foundation, USA INORMS Brisbane, Australia 24 August.

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Presentation on theme: "Research Misconduct International Issues Christine C. Boesz, Dr.P.H. Inspector General National Science Foundation, USA INORMS Brisbane, Australia 24 August."— Presentation transcript:

1 Research Misconduct International Issues Christine C. Boesz, Dr.P.H. Inspector General National Science Foundation, USA INORMS Brisbane, Australia 24 August 2006

2 Global Challenge Some cases of research misconduct have: – Attracted widespread media attention – Eroded public confidence in science – Caused concern in scientific communities – Questioned role of government Other cases of research misconduct have: – Escaped public scrutiny, but – Contribute to a growing body of evidence that defines the problem

3 Intra-country or Inter-country Issues Intra-country cases: – Erode public confidence in research integrity – Raise domestic doubts on research and academic communities’ abilities to promote responsible conduct of research – Raise questions of government’s role & responsiveness – Raise international concerns – Strain international collaborations

4 Intra-country Issues Single-country issues may include: – Policies and procedures may vary by stakeholder, e.g., funder, publisher, university, private laboratory – Inconsistent definitions – Inconsistent standards of evidence – Inconsistent findings – Untimely actions – Inconsistent sanctions

5 Inter-country Issues Multiple country issues may include, but not be limited to: – Same as intra-country issues – Differing rules or legal systems – Differing cultures – Differing constructs of ethical/legal issues

6 Example of Differences “misconduct in research” United States government defines “misconduct in research” as plagiarism and fabrication or falsification of data. Finland government defines “misconduct in research” as “gross negligence and irresponsibility,” e.g., understatement of another’s contributions, negligence in referring to earlier findings, publication of same results several times.

7 Example of Differences “fraud” United States government does not have a notion of fraud in science. Finland government (Board on Research Ethics) considers “fraud in science” as deceiving the research community and decision makers in 4 areas: – Fabrication Misrepresentation (falsification) Fabrication Plagiarism Misappropriation

8 So what’s the problem? Ambiguous “terminology” among scientific disciplines and among countries Growing number of international collaborations Growing number of cross-discipline projects Demands of peer review, international reviewer Dependency on voluntary compliance – In research and university communities – In government and other funding organizations

9 Case Study from the US National Science Foundation Standards: – Research community relevance: Significant departure from accepted practices – Intent: Committed intentionally, or knowingly, or recklessly – Legal: Proven by preponderance of Evidence United States: 45 Code of Federal Register § 689.2(c)

10 Case Study from the US Initial allegation Case development Case facts Conclusions Lessons learned

11 Plagiarism means: the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes or words without giving appropriate credit. Intellectual Property Theft

12 Initial allegation A reviewer of an NSF proposal noticed that the principal investigator (PI), an established scientist, copied ideas and text from her proposal that had previously been submitted to a funding agency in another country (UK).

13 Intellectual Property Theft Case development – Complainant contacted to firmly establish substance of the allegation – UK funding agency then contacted and provided official information – Subject claimed a collaborative relationship (not confirmed by complainant) – Subject intercepted OIG initial inquiry letter to the Co-PI

14 Intellectual Property Theft Case facts – NSF PI was a reviewer of the UK agency proposal – UK agency review predicated on confidentiality – Plagiarism was extensive and confirmed on proposal comparison – University committee established that a central unique idea was stolen

15 Intellectual Property Theft Conclusions – Subject knowingly committed plagiarism – Action exacerbated by the source document being a confidential proposal – Interception of letter was subject's self-protection – University terminated the subject's contract, among other sanctions – NSF made a finding of research misconduct – NSF imposed two years debarment – Subject location unknown

16 Intellectual Property Theft Lessons learned – International cooperation works when the process is explained – UK funding agency had no internal process to pursue the violation – Investigation often relies on non-secure communications

17 Is there a Solution?

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19 The Quest for Solutions Professional conferences and other discussion forums, e.g., INORMS, ORI/ESF 2007 conference in Portugal Research Codes of Conduct Education/ training Global Science Forum – Project to enhance research integrity and prevent scientific misconduct

20 Global Science Forum “The Global Science Forum brings together science policy officials from OECD countries. The delegates, who meet twice a year, seek to identify and maximize opportunities for international co-operation in basic scientific research.” OECD : http://www.oecd.org/department/

21 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Member Countries AUSTRALIA AUSTRIA BELGIUM CANADA CZECH REPUBLIC DENMARK FINLAND FRANCE GERMANY GREECE HUNGARY ICELAND IRELAND ITALY JAPAN KOREA LUXEMBOURG MEXICO NETHERLANDS NEW ZEALAND NORWAY POLAND PORTUGAL SLOVAK REPUBLIC SPAIN SWEDEN SWITZERLAND TURKEY UNITED KINGDOM UNITED STATES

22 OECD/GSF Project To Date Delegation of Japan proposed the project Experts Group was convened to refine the project Delegations of Canada and Japan co-leaders Conducted survey to establish baseline of information: types of misconduct, mechanisms to handle, and suspected causes Project accepted at the GSF meeting, Helsinki, July 2006

23 OECD/GSF Project Next Steps Establish an International Steering Committee Delegations of Japan and Canada will Co-chair Scope of Project – Focus on fabrication and falsification of data and research results – Identify causes and possible remedies – Not prescriptive directives for handling cases of misconduct

24 OECD/GSF Project Next Steps (Continued) Work shop – Tokyo in early 2007 – To include multiple stakeholders, e.g., science organizations, academia, publishers After Workshop, develop policy report for GSF consideration Organize special session – To be held in conjunction with the European Science Foundation/Office of Research Integrity (US) meeting in Portugal, September 2007

25 Ending considerations Science and science tools change faster than either the creation of regulations or the underlying understanding of ethical issues Generational and cultural and community "gaps" are real and important Many problems may result from the "process" – Unclear definitions – Inconsistencies


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