The Science and Technology Committee publishes responses from the Government and UKRI to the Committee’s Report on Research Integrity.
The Committee’s Report concluded that “error, questionable practices, and outright fraud are possible in any human endeavour, and research integrity must be taken seriously and tackled head-on.” It called for a new national committee on research integrity to be established, and the Government response confirms that UKRI has been asked to explore this proposal in more detail. UKRI expects to complete this work and report back to the Committee by early 2019.
Norman Lamb MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said:
“I warmly welcome the Government’s commitment to explore the central recommendation of our Report. A new national committee on research integrity is needed to provide a way of checking that research misconduct processes are being followed properly, and to provide a national voice for the cause of research integrity”
“There is currently a gap in the system that needs to be filled. Universities can be seen to be ‘policing themselves’ when it comes to investigating research misconduct, and a new national committee would provide a counterbalance to that inherent conflict of interest.”
The 2012 Concordat to Support Research Integrity provided a set of high-level commitments to improving research integrity. However, the Committee found that, six years on, around a quarter of universities were not fulfilling the basic Concordat recommendation of publishing data on the number of investigations undertaken each year.
The Government response welcomed the Committee’s recommendations on strengthening the Concordat. The UKRI response states that: “As a signatory, we will work to make the concordat’s requirements and expectations clearer. Over the next twelve months, the signatories will agree the revised version of the concordat and provide the committee with a route map and timetable for reaching 100% compliance”.
“It is encouraging that the Concordat to Support Research Integrity is now being updated and strengthened by the signatories in response to our Report, with a route map towards 100% compliance. I look forward to discussing progress on this with Universities UK, UK Research and Innovation, and the UK Research Integrity Office.
“My Committee will keep a close eye on developments to ensure that actions are followed up, but it appears that the Government and UKRI have listened and are taking our concerns seriously.”