Symposium on Integrity in Research
Challenges for research integrity: diversity and universalism, evidence and reflexivity.
The symposium took place as a digital event on November 24, 2021. We would like to thank all speakers and participants for the engaging discussions!
Research Integrity is a controversial topic within academia, but also in public discourse. Prominent cases of scientific misconduct capture the limelight, but recently a multitude of issues beyond the classical triad of plagiarism, falsification, and fabrication have taken center stage, many of which concern the quality and rigor of research and further challenge the trustworthiness of science. These include selective publication and file-drawer problems, various biases, as well as the general reproducibility or robustness of research results. At the same time, open, inclusive, and creative cultures of research in teams and organizations have been threatened by practices that prioritize outputs, as demonstrated by numerous examples of insufficient mentoring, unfair authorship practices, or intransparency about career progress for younger researchers. All these issues have long histories of discussions about improving scientific methods, however, views differ on how important these issues are, and whether all disciplines are affected equally. While some argue that there is only one scientific method, requiring universal standards for robust evidence, others emphasize the diversity of research cultures and the mutual criticism and learning that can result from this diversity.
As scientific expertise becomes more important in and for the public, it becomes apparent that scientific findings are often provisional, subject to correction, and scientific experts may disagree. There are no simple either-or answers. While it seems indisputable that scientific evidence should be subject to the highest possible standards and be appropriate to the context, it is nevertheless necessary that these standards evolve as scientific methods and research questions progress. For urgent societal problems - such as pandemics - we may even be willing to lower these standards. For new problems, appropriate standards will only emerge after much experimentation and debate. The need for such constant debate is familiar to scientists, but can be disconcerting to the public. Standardization - both in the sense of setting standards and in the sense of homogenization - of research can therefore run the risk of undermining, rather than securing, the progress of knowledge. As a result, the integrity of research must remain a topic for debate, as it is expected to ensure both the robustness and innovation of research while meeting the expectations of different research cultures and the public.
As a contested topic, research integrity encompasses a wide range of actors, platforms and organizations, policies and measures. The symposium will bring together participants from research, practice and policy to map this heterogeneous field, provide evidence of its effectiveness and analyze its (future) development. The event was moderated by Julia Vismann.
Program and speakers
International and national experts were invited together with the event's guests to discuss and reflect on the current state of research integrity and its future development. Interactive and inclusive formats participants worldwide were to ensure a sustained exchange on a topic of central importance for the future of science.
Block 1: „Diversity as an Engine for ‘Good Science’?”
(Format: World Café)
- Li Tang, Fudan University
- Soazic Elise Wang Sonne, United Nations University and World Bank
- Felicitas Heßelmann, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
- Allen Mukhwana, African Academy of Sciences
- Lenna Cumberbatch, University of St. Andrews
With an introduction by Corinna Bath, Technische Universität Braunschweig.
Block 2: “Science Literacy – Taking ‘Good Science’ in and out of Academia”
(Format: Keynote and Roundtable Discussion)
- Dava J. Newman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT (Keynote)
- Tim Flink, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
- Jordi Molas Gallart, Ingenio, CSIC-UPV
- Gali Halevi, Institute for Scientific Information
Moderation of roundtable discussion by Wolfgang Schäffner, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
Block 3: “Objectivity, Transparency, Validity – Establishing Assessment Criteria for ‘Good Science’”
(Format: Keynote and Roundtable Discussion)
- Lorraine Daston, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Keynote)
- Steven Hill, Research England
- Suzy Styles, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
- Lin Zhang, Wuhan University
Moderation of roundtable discussion by Stefan Hornbostel, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
Block 4: Pitches for the Einstein Foundation Award for Promoting Quality in Research – Category Early Career Researchers Award
Four finalists had the opportunity to pitch their project proposals that seek to foster research quality. The winning proposal was to receive the €100,000 Early Career Researchers Award. The prize-giving ceremony honoring all successful awardees took place on the evening of November 24, 2021. The price in the Early Career Researcher Category was awarded to Martin Zettersten and team.
Danielle Peers, University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada)
Yuri Pavlov, University of Tübingen (Tübingen, Germany)
Martin Zettersten, Princeton (Princeton, United States)
Patrick Forscher, Busara Center for Behavioral Economics (Nairobi, Kenya)
With an introduction by Dorothy Bishop, University of Oxford.
Nele Albrecht, Scientific Coordinator for Research Quality