The public’s trust in science depends on research integrity. Institutions need robust policies and strategies to implement this. We have promoted research integrity at institutions in a new programme, which included both high-level engagement in policies ('top down') and a training workshop to introduce best practices to researchers ('bottom up'). Our topics were authorship, plagiarism, redundant publication and conflicts of interest.
To develop, implement and evaluate an institutional approach to promote research integrity.
We consulted with senior faculty from two tertiary institutions in Africa (Nigeria and Malawi) in advance to outline the package being offered and we visited these institutions. During the first day, we offered the workshop to junior and senior researchers. Participants completed a pre-workshop questionnaire containing scenarios that portrayed poor practices. During the workshop, we discussed scenarios in small groups, stimulating the debate amongst all workshop participants. We then provided definitions and best practice guidelines. We met with senior faculty on the following day to provide feedback and insights from the workshop, review current institutional policies and provide examples of what other research groups and institutions are doing. We evaluated the process.
Workshop participants were aware of poor practices at their institutions. Feedback was positive and participants were particularly vocal about authorship issues including guest authorship. Most were unaware of guidelines and found the International Committee of Medical Journal Editor’s criteria for authorship useful. Using scenarios as a springboard for discussions worked well. Discussions with senior researchers resulted in the establishment of a working group tasked with developing a publication policy for the institution.
The combined 'top down' and 'bottom up' institutional approach worked well to initiate conversations on research integrity. We are now following through with these and new participating institutions.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement:
Healthcare consumers should receive information that is trustworthy and accurate. They therefore indirectly benefit from our approach to promoting research integrity at institutions.