Book: Integrity in the Global Research Arena (member review)

Last modified: May 16, 2017

by Jos Frantzen
 

The book presents contributions to the Third World Conference on Research Integrity, convened in Montréal in 2013. The book opens with a keynote address of Michael Farthing of the University of Sussex (UK): current and future challenges for those promoting research integrity. It is followed by six, very well structured, parts dealing with a specific theme. One of the editors provides a brief introduction to, and overview of, each part. You may, therefore, select quite easily a part you like to read.
I started to read this book as somebody who has to deal daily with assurance of the quality of research; in the past as biologist-epidemiologist, now as research manager in life sciences. I had, however, hardly dealt specifically with the topic of research integrity. So, I hoped the book would be a good introduction to the science of research integrity. On that point, I was a bit disappointed. You may need to have some background already to digest this very informative book. I did not have that. For those ‘starters’ like me, I would recommend to read first the briefing paper ‘Research Integrity: what it means, why it is important and how we might protect it’ of Science Europe (http://www.scienceeurope.org). If so, I feel you may profit much more from ‘Integrity in the Global Research Arena’.
I appreciated especially the parts III ‘Responding to research misconduct’ and IV ‘Fostering integrity in research’. Kerry Rehn opened part III with a top 10 of pitfalls in managing research misconduct. One of the pitfalls is inappropriate jurisdiction as pointed out by Ragnvald Kalleberg using his experience in Norway. Donald Kornfeld came up with a fresh, psychiatrist’s, view on research misconduct. Very nice.
The borderline between research integrity and ethics was explored in part IV. Some promote a broad view on research integrity including ethics as well. Others are in favour of a strict definition of research integrity. I prefer the narrow sense, perhaps, to keep the topic tractable for a newcomer on the subject like me. Anyway, you will be triggered by reading this part, the complete book, to reflect about the grey zones of, and between, ‘research professionalism’, ‘research integrity’ and ‘ethics’.
I can recommend the book to people already in the field of research integrity. They can pick up very easily the interesting pieces. All the chapters are very concise and, as mentioned, the book is organised well. It reflects papers presented on a conference. Whereas this is certainly an advantage for the advanced reader, it is a drawback for the starter. It is, of course, no text book.

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