Research Integrity Day

Everyone has a role and responsibility to play in promoting a healthy and positive research culture that is conducive to the training of young scientists and the realization of scientific innovations for the benefits of humankind. – National Institute of Health

The IFMSA Research Integrity Day is a chance to keep learning about Research, with a special regard on integrity.

What is Research Integrity?

Why is it so important to have research skills and to have research methodologies integrated in the undergraduate education?The scientific research enterprise is built on a deep foundation of trust: “this trust will endure only if the scientific community devotes itself to exemplifying and transmitting the values associated with ethical scientific conduct”. The concept of Research integrity includes: the use of honest and verifiable methods in proposing, performing, and evaluating research; reporting research results with particular attention to adherence to rules, regulations, guidelines and following commonly accepted professional codes or norms.

In 1974 Dr. William Summerlin at the New York City’s Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research startled the scientific world by reporting that he had discovered a way to avoid the reaction that has resulted in the failure of so many transplant operations: the tendency of the body’s immune system to destroy foreign tissue. But other scientists were unable to repeat Summerlin’s experiments, and skepticism about his results grew steadily. Since when Summerlin was accused by colleagues of painting the skin of some laboratory mice. “Painting the mice” has become a synonym for research fraud, after his deceptive behavior that might have been due to a combination of mental and physical exhaustion, a heavy clinical and experimental workload, and pressure to publicize positive results. This is just a old story but there are many similar ones till nowadays.

In many scientific fields, results are often difficult to reproduce accurately, being obscured by noise, artifacts, and other extraneous data. That means that even if a scientist does falsify data, they can expect to get away with it – or at least claim innocence if their results conflict with others in the same field. There are no “scientific police” who are trained to fight scientific crimes; all investigations are made by experts in science but amateurs in dealing with criminals. It is relatively easy to cheat although difficult to know exactly how many scientists fabricate data.

Ghostwriting is another example of cheating, the phenomenon where someone other than the named author(s) makes a major contribution. This is somethign to hide the drug companies. It incorporates plagiarism and has an additional element of financial fraud.

Career pressure: watch out! Science is still a very strongly career-driven discipline. Scientists depend on a good reputation to receive ongoing support and funding, and a good reputation relies largely on the publication of high-profile scientific papers. Hence, there is a strong imperative to “publish or perish”. Clearly, this may motivate desperate (or fame-hungry) scientists to fabricate results.

Would you like to know more? And share your experiences? Join us! You can find here our Research Integrity Package to participate to the online campaign: http://tinyurl.com/ifmsaresearchintegrityday

You will also find details about what you could do at national level and give your contribution by filling the survey about your personal experience. The IFMSA Working Group on Research Integrity is currently conducting a survey to study the status of medical education worldwide, with a focus on the implementation of research related programmes. It would be great if you could involve as many Universities as you can in your countries, to spread the Research values at local level and to inspire the students to organize initiatives.

Join us also on our Facebook event and please use our official hashtags #IFMSAResearchIntegrity and #ifmsaRI2015 to promote your initiatives on social media!

Entry written by Ivana Di Salvo, IFMSA Liaison Officer for Research and Medical Association (lorma@ifmsa.org)

Medical students at the World conference on Research Integrity

Research integrity in different science systems is very important, and medical students should be involved this as physician-in-training and young researchers at an early stage of education. This year we had the chance to participate in the 4th World Conference on Research Integrity (WCRI) that took place in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) from May 31st to June 2nd. The conference focused was on the theme of “Improving Systems to Promote Responsible Research”. The main goal was indeed to seek insight into research excellence for different research systems.

Background and previous WCRI
The 1st WCRI in 2007 in Europe was launched as a combined effort of the European Science Foundation (ESF) and the US Office of Research Integrity (ORI). It was then recognized that research integrity is “a critical topic in policy research and has gained significant political and public attention worldwide”. The 1st WCRI also established “a framework for continued discussion of research integrity on a global level and identified that challenges in promoting the integrity of the science system are in many ways fundamentally different for developing countries, countries in transition or emerging economies”.

Accordingly, the 2nd WCRI stressed that “to deserve public trust and support, researchers must set and maintain high standards for integrity in all aspects of their work”. All of this begun to impact the way of funding, doing, and communicating science, which has been marked by an increasingly critical attitude towards ethics and accountability in collaborative research. One important document was indeed the Montreal Statement on Research Integrity, which focuses mostly on the responsibilities of research partners in collaborative endeavours and on the accountability of authors for the outcomes of their research.

IFMSA participation
IFMSA is working to raise awareness on research integrity among students and within their National Member Organizations. As such, the Federation sent a delegation of two members –  Mauro Henrique Camacho and Gustavo Fitas, from IFMSA Brazil – to represents IFMSA in the scientific and research community. They were able to communicate with other representatives of some major journals, like  The Lancet, the BMJ, Nature Publishing Group and more. The Liaison Officer to Research and Medical Associations will follow up with them assuring that we could establish a constructive collaboration that allow student involvement in the research community.

Furthermore, IFMSA has an on-going survey to investigate the status of research methodologies and research integrity within the medical student curriculum. As you are aware the bigger is the sample, the more precise is the study and the information we have regarding our Universities and our countries and higher is the power of this study – that will support your advocacy strategy to seek for a better research methodologies and research integrity education at your University. You can give your contribution sharing this survey among your school mates and your friends in other Universities: goo.gl/VYYVFt.

Entry written by Ivana Di Salvo, IFMSA Liaison Officer for Research and Medical Associations

OpenCon 2015 Applications are Open!

OpenCon2015 new logo (1)

This year the OpenCon 2015 will take place on November 14-16 in Brussels, Belgium.

If you would like to present your projects and activities related to Open Access, Open Education and Open Data  at local, national and international level do not miss this unique opportunity!

OpenCon 2015 will be held on November 14-16 in Brussels, Belgium, and it is organized by the Right to Research Coalition and SPARC, IFMSA collaborating organizations for many years. OpenCon 2015 will bring together students and early career academic professionals from across the world to learn about the issues, develop critical skills, and return home ready to catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information — from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital data.  OpenCon 2015’s three day program will begin with two days of conference-style keynotes, panels, and interactive workshops, drawing both on the expertise of leaders in the Open Access, Open Education and Open Data movements and the experience of participants who have already led successful projects.

The third day will take advantage of the location in Brussels by providing a half-day of advocacy training followed by the opportunity for in-person meetings with relevant policy makers, ranging from the European Parliament, European Commission, embassies, and key NGOs. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of the conference’s three issue areas, stronger skills in organizing local and national projects, and connections with policymakers and prominent leaders across the three issue areas.

OpenCon 2015 builds on the success of the first-ever OpenCon meeting last year which convened 115 students and early career academic professionals from 39 countries in Washington, DC. IFMSA was present last year and gave its active contribution on the opena ccess discussions. For more info, please consult the following link: https://ifmsa.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/medical-students-improving-research-at-opencon-2014/

OpenCon seeks to bring together the most capable, motivated students and early career academic professionals from around the world to advance Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data—regardless of their ability to cover travel costs.  Indeed it is possible to receive a scholarship even for travel expenses! In 2014, more than 80% of attendees received support.  Due to this, attendance at OpenCon is by application only.

Students and early career academic professionals of all experience levels are encouraged to apply!

The meeting in Brussels serves as the centerpiece of a much larger network to foster initiatives and collaboration among the next generation across OpenCon’s issue areas.  Become an active part of the community by joining our discussion list, tuning in for the monthly community calls and webcasts, or hosting an OpenCon satellite event .

The application is available on the OpenCon website at opencon2015.org/attend and includes the opportunity to apply for a travel scholarship to cover the cost of travel and accommodations.

Applications will close on June 22nd at 11:59pm PDT.