New body recommended to take lead on UK research integrity

It’s a rather surprising thing, given the amount of research in the UK, that the UK, unlike the US for example, does not have an established body to oversee research integrity, even that funded by the government.

UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) currently fulfils some of that function but does not have long-term funding and was established to deal primarily with issues in just health and biomedical sciences.

A report by The Research Integrity Futures Working Group (sponsored by Universities UK and Research Councils UK) has just been issued. The working group was established in the spring of 2009 to consider among other issues “existing arrangements for research integrity in the UK and “?the terms of reference for any new arrangements for research integrity from 2010”

The report makes nine recommendations, chief amongst which is that “From 20102 the UK should have a single body to lead on the common issues of research integrity across all disciplines, all types of research, and all research establishments.” but perhaps surprisingly goes onto recommend that “The body should have no direct regulatory or investigatory functions” which does lead to concerns over what teeth such a body would have.

Nonetheless, clearly some sort of permanent body is better than none and the current UKRIO has welcomed the report. Whether the recommendations will come to anything given the current UK government's announcement that they wish to cut science spending by 25%, remains to be seen.