Brazil statement urges culture of research integrity
In late May, Ivan was invited to Brazil to take part in the Second Brazilian Meeting on Research Integrity, Science and Publication Ethics(II BRISPE). Organized by the Medical Biochemistry Institute (IBqM/UFRJ) & Alberto Luiz Coimbra Institute for Graduate Studies and Research in Engineering (COPPE/UFRJ), the meeting traveled from Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo to Porto Alegre over the course of several days.
One of the goals of the whirlwind meeting, which brought together researchers, administrators, funding agencies, and experts in scientific integrity from around the world, was to produce a Joint Statement on Scientific Integrity. That statement, into which Ivan had input, has now been published, so we thought we’d post links to it in English, Portuguese, and Spanish and check in with Sonia Maria Ramos Vasconcelos, one of the organizers of the meeting.
What prompted you to hold BRISPE?
BRISPE started in 2010 (I BRISPE) as a forum to promote a wider discussion on research integrity and responsible conduct of research (RI/RCR) in Brazil. We aimed to stimulate the involvement of Brazilian academia in the international debates on the topics, which have been led by the US, Canada, Australia and some other developed countries. There was much publicity over the I BRISPE, though attendance was small. At that time we had about 170 participants. However, the visibility of the meetings in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo was considerably high through major Brazilian newspapers, and internationally, through the websites of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and ALL European Academies (ALLEA), among others. Such publicity helped to call attention of Brazilian research leaders, and I think awareness that research misconduct was a global, and not a local, issue was rising in the country. This setting was appropriate to extend initiatives, especially after the launching of FAPESP’s Code of Good Research Practices and CNPq’s Directives on Research Integrity, in 2011. CNPq [The Brazilian National Research Council for Scientific and Technological Development] and FAPESP [The State of São Paulo Research Foundation] helped us to organize the II BRISPE. For this second, we had a much higher audience, about 545 participants, with contributions of 13 international speakers. The event really demonstrated that Brazil can play an active role in contributing to international initiatives to deepen the discussion and develop global policies on RI/RCR.
What are your goals for the Joint Statement?
The Joint Statement draws upon the current research environment and existing policies on research integrity to stimulate institutional actions to include RI/RCR in the training of young researchers. The document aims to encourage Brazilian institutions to strengthen a culture of RI/RCR, especially among newcomers in academia. The recommendations in the Joint Statement are grounded on the idea that research integrity and research excellence are inseparable and that RI/RCR policies should be viewed as important assets in education, be it in basic or higher education.
Are there particular kinds of misconduct that require attention in Brazil? (Here’s Retraction Watch’s coverage — not necessarily comprehensive — of retractions in the country.)
I think all kinds of misconduct and questionable research practices require attention in Brazil and abroad, as we cannot say for sure that only one or two may be cause for concern. However, I believe plagiarism and authorship should be widely discussed, especially because they frequently involve cultural perceptions. Often times, they involve disciplinary and even departmental perceptions, which may lead to misunderstandings. Also, they may involve generational perceptions of these issues, which may impact, for example, supervisor-supervisee relationships.
What are the next steps for BRISPE and the Joint Statement?
The III BRISPE is planned for 2014. For this meeting, we will broaden the scope and have sessions for original contributions on research ethics and on RI/RCR, as interest in studies in these areas is increasing. This interest is extremely important today because it seems to reflect the necessity we have to understand the reasons, motivations and possible outcomes of doing research in an environment that is shifting rapidly. This changing environment poses particular challenges for different research communities and different generations of scientists. In Brazil, the Joint Statement on Research Integrity will be widely disseminated to raise awareness that responding to these challenges is vital for education, science, technology and innovation in the country.