Over the last year, one topic of conversation that has continually cropped up is the importance of making research integrity relevant. As my previous blogs have illustrated, there is a lot of useful and relevant information out there, but the issue seems to be how to make the individuals conducting the research aware of it. That’s not to say that anyone makes a conscious decision to ignore it. Indeed if individuals are juggling teaching and/or supervising commitments with grant writing, research publishing and profile raising it is easy to see how developments in research integrity can and do go unnoticed.
Why is this so vital? Because, in my experience, with the best will in the world, very little seems to alter in terms of the local research culture or within the broader scientific community unless individuals and/or their peers decide to make a change. In practice, to do this requires an awareness and understanding of the issues, something that is significantly enhanced by context and research relevance.
For me, research integrity workshops work best to provide tailored information and a defined time during which support is available. They don’t have to be long – in fact, much can be achieved in a half-day session, giving individuals the chance to reflect upon the significance of what they have learnt and discuss this with their peers.
Given this opportunity, even the most resistant of individuals appear empowered. Having recognised and related with some element(s) of the constantly evolving concept of good practice they can then choose to incorporate this learning into their daily routines, and life in the lab.
For me, this is what research integrity training/education should be about. It isn’t helpful to lecture anyone on what they should or shouldn’t be doing, or to tell them that they are doing something wrong. Instead, if you can make the topic relevant and engaging, does it really matter whether the driver for change is to gain a competitive edge, or something more altruistic, like maximising the benefits gained for the greater good?
The end result is the same.
An individual’s knowledge of research integrity has been refreshed. The motivation to develop and adopt contemporary good practices is renewed, and there is one less item to be found languishing indefinitely on an unending list of ‘things to do’.
If you would like to know more about the range of workshops and courses that I run for Bioscientist’s at all stages of their research careers, or could use some help to enhance how you support and develop the next generation of responsible researchers, then please visit Responsible Research in Practiceand send us a message via the website today.