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The U.S. public and private sectors invest billions of dollars and countless hours of highly skilled labor into scientific research every year, an investment that delivers enormous benefits to society. Integrity is indispensable to the orderly and efficient progress of this research. Regrettably, there have been some well-publicized breakdowns in scientific integrity and reported cases of irreproducible research. A new report from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), Fostering Integrity in Research, recommends specific steps to secure a future based on integrity and reliability (www.nap.edu/catalog/21896/). These include establishing a new Research Integrity Advisory Board (RIAB) and taking stronger actions to discourage and eliminate practices that are clearly detrimental to research.

 

There is currently no U.S. organization that promotes research integrity across sectors and disciplines on a continuing basis and as its core mission. The RIAB is proposed as a new, independent, nonprofit organization that will work with all stakeholders in the research enterprise to develop and disseminate solutions. Its specific priorities include bolstering the capacity of research institutions to investigate misconduct allegations, raising standards and improving research environments, and addressing other vulnerabilities in the system. A compelling argument for creating an RIAB is that research institutions have sometimes failed to promptly and adequately investigate potential transgressions, notably in cases where the outcome could negatively affect their finances or reputation. This failure compounds the damage done by violations of research norms. RIAB’s intent will be to strengthen the ability of institutions to effectively perform investigations through encouragement, expertise, resources, and additional transparency. The entire research community—public and private research sponsors, regulators, research institutions, scientific societies, and publishers—should come together to launch and support the RIAB. Funding by RIAB members could be established according to the size and type of organization as a percentage of their annual research activity.

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