ALLEA Permanent Working Group on Science & Ethics met in Berlin to revise of European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity

On 10 June 2016, a subgroup of the ALLEA Permanent Working Group on Science and Ethics met in the premises of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Berlin to discuss the revision of the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. The meeting was joined by representatives from the Ethics and Research Integrity Sector at the European Commission and from the European Network of Research Integrity Offices (ENRIO).

Following a request by the European Commission, the ALLEA Permanent Working Group on Science and Ethics, chaired by Professor Göran Hermerén, has taken on the responsibility of updating the “European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity”. For this endeavor, a subgroup was formed, comprising experts from Belgium, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. The group is chaired by Dr Maura Hiney from the Royal Irish Academy, who also chairs Science Europe’s Working Group on Research Integrity.

First published in 2011 in cooperation with the European Science Foundation (ESF), the first edition of this document addressed the principles of research integrity, good research practices and potential forms of misconduct in scientific and scholarly research. The Code was well received and is widely used within the research community across Europe.

Recently, the European Commission expressed a keen interest in an updated version of the Code which is intended to become the standard reference document for EU-funded research projects. Since the first publication, new developments such as self-plagiarism, reproducibility of research results and challenges arising in the context of Open Science, among others, have evolved and will be taken into account in the revision of the Code.

At the meeting, ALLEA President Professor Günter Stock welcomed the members of the subgroup and the attending guests and highlighted the value and importance of ALLEA’s Permanent Working Group on Science and Ethics’ work in general and the efforts in updating the Code in particular. He considered it an exceptional opportunity for ALLEA to continue framing the conditions for science and scholarship in Europe, thereby demonstrating the capacities and strength of the academies in Europe in providing policy-for-science advice to policy-makers through their European network ALLEA.

In this first meeting, the participants shared their vision on the nature and objectives of the Code in light of the challenges arising from new developments in the research enterprise as well as in society. They identified the main issues to be revised and updated in the document and agreed on the procedures and timeline of the revision process.

The participants shared the understanding of the Code as an empowering document for scientists and scholars, which should be universally applicable and should aim to promote a culture of integrity and good research practice.

Relevant stakeholders and experts outside the academies will be involved in the revision through a two-stage consultation process. The detailed discussions with Mr Isidoros Karatzas from the European Commission and Dr Torkild Vinther from ENRIO represented a first step in this direction. Further relevant external stakeholder organisations have been invited to signpost issues that they feel should be considered in an updated Code of Conduct. In a second stage, stakeholders will be encouraged to comment on an advanced draft of the document.

A revised version of the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity is envisaged to be finalised in early 2017.