The Association for the Promotion of Research Integrity (APRIN) is a general incorporated association founded on April 1, 2016, by leading Japanese researchers in academic disciplines including biomedical science, engineering and humanities, aiming to raise awareness of global research ethics that change with the advancement of science and also to actively support research activities of research institutions and various other academic societies, by providing Japanese researchers, prospective researchers and those supporting research with educational materials and study sessions on research ethics and by offering consultation to research institutions on their efforts to make rules for research integrity.
Toward global standardization of conducting fair investigations of allegations of research misconduct
When a research institution receives a whistleblowing of research misconduct, a research misconduct investigation committee is set up according to the content of the whistleblowing, and an investigation is conducted. At that time, there may be a problem that the experience and policy differ depending on the person in charge of the investigation and the committee members. Although the investigation is conducted based on the guidelines of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the details are not defined, and it cannot be denied that there may be differences in the criteria for fraudulent recognition among the investigation committees.
The APRIN Subcommittee on Medical and Life Sciences has held the “Meeting for Standardization of Research Misconduct Investigation” with 22 specialists who have deep experience in this field, with the aim of preventing such a possibility and supporting researchers in charge at each research institution and those appointed as committee members. During the 15 meetings, the opinions of editors in Europe and U.S., experienced specialists in U.S. government agencies, and people from Japanese government agencies have been also referred.
Then, we have summarized the points to be considered when conducting research misconduct investigations and reported them at international conferences. Now, the culmination of these achievements had been published in Accountability in Research, an internationally acclaimed journal in the field of research integrity.
The article provides an easy-to-understand explanation of how to respond to allegations of misconduct in research institutions, what procedures to follow, what to consider, and what to base decisions on. This paper is now open access.