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Spotlight: OECD guide for investigating misconduct in international collaborative research


It can be challenging to investigate allegations of research misconduct. Investigations must be thorough, objective and fair, and carried out in a timely manner using a transparent process. They must be in accordance with the law, meet the requirements of regulatory and funding bodies, and show due sensitivity and confidentiality to those involved.

Investigating allegations relating to collaborative research can be particularly challenging, especially international research collaborations. Mistakes can be made and important issues missed.

Recognising this, in 2007 the OECD Global Science Forum established a committee of international experts, including representation from UKRIO, to devise practical recommendations to help research organisations investigate this type of misconduct and avoid common pitfalls. In 2009, the committee produced its final report:

OECD Investigating Research Misconduct Allegations in International Collaborative Research Projects: a Practical Guide

The guidance includes a short ‘boilerplate’ text which can be inserted into any agreement for a specific international collaboration. It also includes a fundamental set of principles, guidelines and suggested procedures for conducting international research misconduct investigations, which can be adopted when putting together international research projects.

The OECD ‘Guide is an invaluable document and UKRIO recommends its consideration by any organisation entering into international collaborative research. Further information on the OECD Global Science Forum’s work on research integrity can be found here , including its 2007 Consensus Report on Best Practices for Ensuring Scientific Integrity and Preventing Misconduct.

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