The focus of the 4th World Conference on Research Integrity was to improve research reward systems to promote responsible research practices.
The World Conference on Research Integrity (WCRI) was launched in 2007 in Europe. The 1st WCRI was a combined effort of the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the US Office of Research Integrity (ORI). As the Final Report of the Conference states, “research integrity has emerged in recent years as a critical topic in policy research and has gained significant political and public attention worldwide. The Conference aimed at furthering world dialogue on this topic”, which was achieved through the participation of representatives of funding agencies, research institutions, academies of sciences, governmental and non-governmental organizations and publishers from about 50 countries.
The 1st WCRI established “a framework for continued discussion of research integrity on a global level and identified that challenges in promoting the integrity of the science system are in many ways fundamentally different for developing countries, countries in transition or emerging economies”. This awareness strengthened the idea that addressing research integrity in different science systems should be a global priority and that a proactive agenda would be crucial to broaden participation. A proactive agenda included, for example, initiatives from major publishers to tackle the problem of plagiarism, image manipulation and inappropriate authorship credit. In the years that followed the 1st WCRI, many of these initiatives were taken by publishers and journals such as Elsevier, Nature, Science, and Wiley Blackwell. Also, in the last few years, COPE has strengthened interaction with academic publishers to promote integrity in the publication process, which is associated with the correction of the literature. The 1st WCRI made it clear that what was behind all these efforts was the need to foster public trust in science.
Accordingly, the 2nd WCRI stressed that “to deserve public trust and support, researchers must set and maintain high standards for integrity in all aspects of their work” and that a proactive agenda would be necessary. This agenda would help develop guidelines and recommendations for national and international structures to promote research integrity, includingcommon curricula for training students and researchers in best practices.It was the 2nd WCRI that launched the Singapore Statement on Research Integrity. This document, now translated into many languages, lays out fundamental principles and responsibilities that should be considered in the global research enterprise. The idea was that the Singapore Statement would be used as a starting point for other Statements by research institutions, funding agencies, academies of sciences and professional societies. In the years that have followed the 2nd WCRI , the Singapore Statement has been widely used - in the US, Canada, Asian and European countries, and in Brazil, among others. The adoption of the Statement, with or without adaptations, has reflected the engagement of major players in global science in research integrity-related debates and initiatives. This changing panorama has begun to impact the way of funding, doing, and communicating science, which has been marked by an increasingly critical attitude towards ethics and accountability in collaborative research.
Accordingly, the 3rd WCRI looked at research integrity in cross-national, cross-disciplinary and cross-sector partnerships, among other topics, creating a diverse forum to discuss the challenges in these partnerships, including responses to research misconduct and mechanisms to correct the literature. Also, authorship responsibilities in science had a special place in the debates. In line with these concerns, the 3rd WCRI launched the Montreal Statement on Research Integrity, which builds on the Singapore Statement, but focuses mostly on the responsibilities of research partners in collaborative endeavors and on the accountability of authors for the outcomes of their research. In the Montreal Statement, it is recommended that “collaborating partners should openly discuss their customary practices and assumptions related to the research”. This is particularly important not only in the context of international collaborations but also of local collaborations, for example, in senior-junior and/or supervisor-supervisee works and in cross-disciplinary academic interactions.
These interactions play an important part in the health of the research environment and of the research literature, and a healthy research enterprise reflects on research excellence. To seek insight into research excellence for different research systems, the 4th WCRI focuses on Research Rewards and Integrity: Improving Systems to Promote Responsible Research.