Potočnik, 52 countries’ representatives ponder research integrity in Lisbon

18. September 2007 15:38

Potočnik, 52 countries’ representatives ponder research integrity in Lisbon

EU Commissioner for Research Janez Potočnik, Angel Gurria, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and Jose-Mariano Gago, the Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education along with more than 300 participants from 52 countries are gathering in Lisbon, Portugal this week for the First World Conference on Research Integrity. This unprecedented gathering of concerned scientists, scientific managers and magazine editors from around the world is driven by the common belief that research integrity is not just an important issue for the research community as policy makers and the general public also have a great stake in it as well.


 
The issue of research integrity has dogged the science community in recent years as many high-profile misconduct cases have brought unwanted attention and casted doubt on the creditability for the science research field.
 
“The challenges lie not only with the behaviour of individual researchers and their institutions, but on the soundness of the system of scientific governance as a whole,” said EU Commissioner for Research Janez Potočnik at the opening conference talk. He emphasised, that it is also a question of the soundness - or efficiency - of the system of scientific governance. As a science politician in charge of improving the framework for research in Europe, he told the audience he also ponders a number of issues when it comes to scientific research - “Are the sources of the information we are given by the scientists credible? Are the actors involved competent? And are they sufficiently motivated by the public interest? “
 
Creditability and competence are only one side of the coin. The other side has to do with the economic and financial losses due to misbehaviour, according to others.
 
Angel Gurria, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), made the connection between research and economic growth: “The link between the two is of course innovation which is one of the core concerns. “ He pointed out that the governments around the world have understood the importance of fostering research and development and investing in intellectual capital but “the conditions under which research takes place, and in particular, how to ensure integrity and responsibility in research, have received much less attention.“ He added to address this topic is necessary to avoid the high costs of misconduct in research.
 
In his remarks, Jose-Mariano Gago, the Portuguese Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education pointed out that “Personal misconduct is not a science policy issue. It should be dealt with on the institutional level. It is a rare phenomenon and it would be wrong from the point of view of science policy to dramatise it, although it is very easy to sell to tabloids.” Instead he saw the academic institutions at the heart of modern societies where misconduct should be openly discussed. His message: “This should not be a conference to throw suspicion upon science, but to support the historical compromise of science with integrity and the truth. “
 
In an effort to address the urgent need for fighting fraud, forgery and plagiarism in science world-wide, the very first World Conference on Research Integrity is taking place this week to facilitate an unprecedented global effort to foster responsible research in Lisbon, Portugal from 16 to 19 September 2007.  The event is initiated and organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the US Office for Research Integrity (ORI). It marks a milestone for the science community as it will link all those concerned parties in a global effort to tackle the issue head on.
 

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