An article in the Times Higher Education indicates that research misconduct in the UK will attract sanctions to both the investigator and to institutions, should the latter engage in any form of cover up or not investigate claims of misconduct properly. This follows criticism by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee regarding the complete absence of any action on research misconduct (I prefer the word “fraud”, it is basic Anglo Saxon and is in my mind the perfect descriptor) by government funding agencies. That is, there has never been in the UK any action by a funding agency following proven claims of misconduct.
This is why the UK Research Integrity Office had its funding withdrawn. Again very reasonable, as in my personal experience this was a completely ineffectual organisation. As a consequence, I have removed the link to the UK Research Integrity Office from the sidebar on my blog.
So now we should see on the websites of research institutions a contact where concerns regarding research can be sent. Whether these concerns also go to government to ensure the loop is closed and institutions take their duties in this respect seriously, is something we will have to see.
I hope to test the system with a few papers I have read in the last year, though I suspect that, as ever, holding one’s breath is medically inadvisable.
Still it is a move in the right direction and yet another example of the importance of our parliamentary Select Committees. However, the will of Parliament is, as ever, up against institutional inertia. Generally, parliament wins, but it takes time.