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Call for New Research Integrity Group

In a new report, a US National Academy of Sciences panel has called for the creation of an independent organization to promote research integrity.

The panel, led by Robert Nerem, an emeritus professor at Georgia Tech, was tasked with reviewing the academy's 25-year-old scientific conduct standards, but, as he tells NPR, the panel members quickly realized this effort would be more than an update. "This was a question of taking a brand new look and a very different look," he tells NPR's Shots blog.

The previous report had centered on individual instances of misconduct, but for this new one, Nerem and his colleagues examined the whole research enterprise. "We've been fond of the 'bad apple' narrative, and we're talking about switching to the barrels and the barrel makers," committee member CK Gunsalus from the University of Illinois adds.

In their report, the panel offers nearly dozen recommendations that researchers, institutes, sponsors, journals, and societies could follow to shore up research integrity. In particular, Retraction Watch notes that the panel recommends that stakeholders join forces to form a nonprofit, independent Research Integrity Advisory Board. Such an RIAB wouldn't investigate instances of misconduct, but would offer support and advice.

"The RIAB will hopefully increase the capacity of research institutions to do what they're doing to ensure best practices," Nerem tells Retraction Watch.