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 Scientific Integrity Office at Inserm
At Inserm, scientific integrity and its associated issues are an ongoing consideration. Since 1999, the Institute has a Scientific Integrity Office (SIO) 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 may be made to the Office by any Inserm staff member or any person working in an Inserm-accredited body.
"Scientific integrity is the truthful and honest conduct that must govern all research. Inherent to all research activities, it forms the basis of knowledge and learning. Scientific integrity is not a moral issue but is founded on universal moral principles according to which it is wrong “to lie, to steal, etc.”. The quality and reliability of scientific output depend on it. The knowledge society is founded on it in order to - to put it succinctly -"believe in science". While ethical issues are debated, scientific integrity is indisputable. Scientific integrity is self-respecting, it is a code of professional conduct that must not be infringed. It is essential for science, in the same way as the professional codes of ethics are essential for medicine and law."
Taken from the Assessment and proposals for the implementation of the national charter of scientific integrity (2016) (in French), a report by Pierre Corvol with the participation of Rémy Giscquel.