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Recap of the RRI2018 meeting and workshop at ICMAB

On 16 March 2018, with the aim of introducing this concept to the research community at ICMAB, and in collaboration with the Marie-Curie Initial Training Network (ITN) i-Switch, a workshop on "Ethics and Responsible Research & Innovation in Research" (RRI2018) was organized. 

The workshop gathered several experts from the field that provided us with some insights on how to deal with some of the aspects included in RRI, from ethics and gender aspects in research to integrity and scientific misconduct. Two practical workshops focusing on the promotion of RRI and the available methods to implement it, by Rosina Malagrida (IrSiCaixa), were also included. 

Apr 19, 2018
The workshop started with a short welcome and presentation of the center by ICMAB Director, Xavier Obradors, who emphatized that the ICMAB is on the Top 10 research centers in Barcelona, according to Nature, and the main research topics at ICMAB: materials for energy conversion and storage, superconducting materials, oxide and molecular electronics, and nanostructured functional biomaterials. 


The program included a first talk with Prof. Pilar Goya (Instituto de Química Médica, IQM-CSIC) on ‘Ethics in research: good scientific practices’, in which she talked about the principles of research integrity and misconduct. She affirmed that the cases of misconduct are rising, as well as the number of retractions in scientific journals. It is also impressive the percentage of fraud (14 %) and questionable research practices (72 %) when asked about other colleagues...

"Misconduct is now easy to commit, but also easier to detect" - Prof. Pilar Goya

Why is there misconduct in research? Pressure to publish, competition for funds, fraudster personality? How to avoid it? Audits, replications, protection of blowers, safeguard of research... At a personal level, it is our responsability, at a global level, there are organizations, tools, guidelines, and other initiatives to promote Research Integrity within researchers (ESF, Science Europe, ENRIO, H2020-Art.34, ALLEA, GSP guidelines...Within CSIC, there is the "Code of good scientific practices" (2011). In Chemistry, Pilar introduced the EuChems "the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences, which aims to nurture a platform for scientific discussion and to provide a single, unbiased European voice on key policy issues in chemistry and related fields.", and which is organizing an interactive online course to start in September 2018 on "Ethics in Chemistry" with a special emphasis in Nanoscience. 

Next, Prof. Katharina Al-Shamery (University of Oldenburg, Germany) talked about ‘Scientific misconduct in publication of research results’. She talked about the different types of scientific fraud, including honor authorships, refusing coauthorshps, theft of ideas, retard work of others, damage results and plagiarism. About plagiarism, she showed us some of the recent cases in Germany about plagiarism in PhD theses by politicians, how they have dealt with those cases and the consequences (deprival of title, withdraw of publications, loss of reputation, end of job, court...), and how to protect whistle blowers. In this sense, the presence of an Ombudsman or Committee is essential in order to protect confidentiality, neutrality and mediation. She then explained some methods to avoid misconduct, including empowerement for RI, transparent research, and supervision. 

"Supervision is critical to avoid misconduct" - Prof. Katharina Al-Shamery

Prof. Britta Thomsen (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark) was the next to talk on ‘Gender perspectives in research: current trends and ways of improvement and facing the future of the EU’s FP9’. She has been in the EU Parliament for 10 years, and was member of the Committee for Women's rights. Since 1999 the EU Parliament thought seriously about including women (which is half of the population) in science. She then gave an overview of the different member states and their situation regarding women in science and the strategies followed to increase their numbers (benefits, funding...). 

"The number of women in science is higher in the new member states than in the old member states of the EU" - Prof. Britta Thomsen

After the coffee break we had Prof. Stefano Ossicini (University of Modena, Italy) talking about ‘Integrity, misconduct and the structure of the scientific research", who also talked about misconduct in research. He was of the opinion that:

"Hiring and promoting people based on bibliometric indexes may be a cause of misconduct in research; we should stop evaluating people based on their bibliometric indexes; quality is important, not quantity". - Prof. Stefano Ossicin

He introduced DORA (San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment), which recognizes the need to improve the ways in which the outputs of scholarly research are evaluated. The declaration was developed in 2012 during the Annual Meeting of the American Society for Cell Biology in San Francisco. It is a worldwide initiative covering all scholarly disciplines and all key stakeholders including funders, publishers, professional societies, institutions, and researchers. All individuals and organizations who are interested in developing and promoting best practice in the assessment of scholarly research are encouraged to sign it. 

Prof. Miguel García Guerrero (Presidente del Comité de Ética, CSIC) finished the morning talks with a seminar on ‘Research Ethics and Integrity in Europe. Provisions in Horizon 2020’. He exposed that in Europe, no project is funded if it does not include an ethical approval, and that even the process of publishing is faster with a well ethics compliance. 

Finally, after lunch Rosina Malagrida (Institut de Recerca de la Sida, IrsiCaixa) started with a talk on "Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) for a more open R&I system in Europe", which was followed by two practical workshops: "Is it necessary to rethink the way R&I is performed" and "Methodologies to open the research process". She opened us the eyes in terms of making research open to the public, and participative, involving citizens in the research process and creating science for everyone. 

More information about the program and speakers in the workshop website: https://congresses.icmab.es/rri2018/


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