Confidential hotline for scientists

May 11, 2007 at 9:08 am | Posted in Integrity, Medical, Research, Science | Leave a comment

Hotline seeks tip-offs for fake researchBy Jon Boone, Education Correspondent
Published: May 11 2007 03:00
A confidential hotline that will allow scientists to inform on colleagues they suspect of concocting research results is launched today.The scheme’s backers hope it will help curb research misconduct within universities, the National Health Service and industry.

Scientific Fraud (Financial Times, p6, 2/3 col)

I cannot access the rest of that article, but found the story here today in the Guardian:

Researchers encouraged to blow the whistle on malpractice
Jessica Shepherd
Saturday May 12, 2007
EducationGuardian.co.uk

A helpline set up for British medical researchers who suspect their colleagues of malpractice went live yesterday.
Callers are likely to be from universities and NHS trusts and will be heard in confidence between 8am and 8pm weekdays.

The helpline – thought to be the world’s first – is in response to a perceived rise in medical research misconduct cases. It is also aimed at making it easier for researchers to blow the whistle on malpractice.

The government-funded UK Research Integrity Office (RIO), created last year, has set up the helpline. It will perform a purely advisory role and will seek guidance from a panel of experts. It cannot investigate cases.

Prof Michael Farthing, vice-chairman of the UK panel for research integrity in health and biomedical sciences, of which RIO is a part, said: “Sometimes individuals do feel that their concerns are not fully dealt with. When a third party is brought in it can be found to be quite useful.”

A study published in Nature in 2005 claimed that a third of US scientists had engaged in serious research misconduct in the past three years. Out of the 3,200 scientists who took part, less than 1% admitted to falsifying data, but more than 12% said they had tolerated a misuse of data by their colleagues.

“It would be very difficult to say that we in the UK are any different,” Prof Farthing said. “I have to say that my inclination is that there is a rise in research misconduct.”

He said this was because scientists, particularly medical researchers, were under “huge” pressure to perform and secure their next grant.

The helpline only covers medical research misconduct, where cases of malpractice are thought to be the most common, but there are plans to expand into all disciplines.

Andy Stainthorpe, who will man the helpline and runs RIO, said he was expecting between 10 and 100 calls a month.

“It could be a university administrator who calls, or the person whose responsibility it is to handle allegations of misconduct, like the pro-vice-chancellor for research.”

· the helpline is 0844 7700 644 and costs 3p a minute from a landline.

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