The UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity (2012) has raised the visibility and significance of research ethics and integrity for universities.
Research misconduct is increasing worldwide, for example, see the Diederik Stapel report in the Netherlands. Questionable research practices are also growing exacerbated by the pressures researchers face from issues such as the ‘publish or perish’ perception (likely to intensify as the Research Excellence Framework, 2020 draws nearer), and high levels of competition for jobs and funding. Unethical research practices have the potential to skew the research record over time (J. Lehrer), and erode public trust in the enterprise of research. Proven cases of research misconduct can irreparably damage the reputation of a university, lead to a loss of funding, and embarrassing retractions in journals, not to mention ruining the careers of any implicated academics (Retraction Watch).
Against this background, the teaching of ethical values in research has become more important. The Green Paper: Fulfilling Our Potential (Nov 2015) Cm 9141 proposes a Teaching Excellence Framework aimed at driving up the standard of teaching. Within this new landscape, quality of learning experiences and outcomes has become more significant; the government declaring that teaching cannot remain the ‘second cousin’ of research.
There is, therefore, a need not only for high quality research; in research ethics and integrity that spans the academic and the applied spheres, but also for good quality teaching of research ethics and integrity. This helps students develop integrity and accountability for future personal and professional success and equips the next generation of academics and other professionals to produce and confidently demonstrate ethically sound research and practice.
The aim of the Centre for Applied Research Ethics and Integrity is to address these pressing issues by exploring them within a number of different contexts, and across a range of subject areas. By building collaborative partnerships, both within and outside the University, and supporting academic and non-academic networks, it is hoped to create a community of scholarship and study which will include teaching, research and consultancy in research ethics and integrity.