Scientific integrity is defined as “all of the rules and values that must govern research in order to ensure its honesty and scientific rigor”. As an essential condition for maintaining society’s trust in research stakeholders, scientific integrity is an ongoing consideration at Inserm.
Scientific integrity concerns all areas of research:
- the conduct of research projects
- the dissemination of knowledge and scientific communication
- the supervision of students
- the conduct of evaluations and expert appraisals
The scientific community as a whole is resolutely committed to respecting the principles of research ethics and scientific integrity. However, violations can occur, causing serious harm to science. The most serious cases involve fabrication, falsification, plagiarism - not to mention the withholding of data, which can have potentially far-reaching consequences in clinical trials. Other cases can involve the deliberate exclusion of an author of a publication (or, conversely, “rubber-stamping”), undisclosed conflict of interest during an evaluation or expert appraisal, and the inadequate supervision of students and junior researchers.
The Research Integrity Office at Inserm
At Inserm, scientific integrity and its associated issues are an ongoing consideration. Since 1999, the Institute has a Research Integrity Office (RIO) which fulfills a dual mission:
- Propose prevention procedures, promote good practices and participate in national and international initiatives in order to harmonize them
- Answer questions relating to scientific integrity and handle allegations of misconduct (concerning individuals employed by or working at Inserm)
Complaints and questions may be made to the RIO by any Inserm staff member or any person working in an Inserm-accredited lab.
The French National Charter for Research Integrity
Drawn up by Inserm, the Conference of University Presidents (CPU), the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), and the National Institute for Agricultural Research (Inra), the purpose of this charter is to describe the criteria required for an honest and rigorous scientific approach. This charter is particularly applicable in the context of all national and international partnerships. To date, a large number of the country’s research institutions and many universities have made a commitment to this charter.
"Good research practices are based on fundamental principles of research integrity. They guide researchers in their work as well as in their engagement with the practical, ethical and intellectual challenges inherent in research. These principles are:
- Reliability in ensuring the quality of research, reflected in the design, the methodology, the analysis and the use of resources.
- Honesty in developing, undertaking, reviewing, reporting and communicating research in a transparent, fair, full and unbiased way.
- Respect for colleagues, research participants, society, ecosystems, cultural heritage and the environment.
- Accountability for the research from idea to publication, for its management and organisation, for training, supervision and mentoring, and for its wider impacts."
The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity - ALLEA 2017