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Module 3: Conducting Research Responsibly – Protecting Yourself, Your Research, and Your University

1.2 The international context

Unlike the various treaties, conventions, and agreements governing intellectual property (IP), there are no comparable treaties governing the responsible conduct of research internationally. The key to managing international research projects is trust among the collaborating researchers. When that trust is broken – either from an honest or deliberate mistake – then the integrity of the research is questioned and the relationship between the researchers and institutions is damaged.

In 2010, participants at the 2nd World Conference on Research Integrity developed the Singapore Statement on Research Integrity. “The principles and responsibilities set out in the ‘Singapore Statement’ represent the first international effort to encourage the development of unified policies, guidelines and codes of conduct, with the long-range goal of fostering greater integrity in research worldwide” (http://www.singaporestatement.org/). While the Singapore Statement is not a regulatory document, it is intended to challenge researchers and governments to conduct and manage research responsibly, both locally and on a global basis.

While the Singapore Statement describes the principles and responsibilities of responsible research, in 2009 the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Global Science Forum released a practical guide for facilitating investigations into research misconduct in international collaborative research projects [OECD, 2009. Facilitating international research misconduct investigations in international collaborative research projects: a practical guide, http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/42/34/42770261.pdf]. Rather than dictate how research misconduct investigations should be conducted, this OECD guide describes the core principles underpinning any research misconduct investigation, including the inclusion of agreed definitions of research misconduct. Furthermore, the guide recommends that any…

“…agreement for collaborative research involving parties from more than one country should address the promotion of good practice in research and describe the principles, standards and procedures for the investigation of allegations of research misconduct within the project. Agreement on these matters among the parties could be embodied in the formal documents that establish the collaborative research project. Appropriately experienced individuals should be responsible for implementing these requirements” (OECD 2009, p.1).

Questions for reflection

Reflect on the following questions in relation to your research projects:

  • Have you discussed responsible research practices and processes for managing disagreements and conflict with your international research collaborators?
  • Do agreements covering your international research collaborations include statements on the responsible conduct of research and procedures for investigating allegations of research misconduct should they arise during the project?


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