We are pleased to announce a new collaboration between UKRI, Cancer Research UK and GuildHE, to explore what indicators of research integrity exist, or could be proposed, that are valid, reliable, ethical and practical, and to open a national and international discussion on next steps. We see this area as a growing policy priority, and this project will inform the work of the recently-established UK Committee on Research Integrity.

Research Consulting has been commissioned to deliver an initial review of the landscape between November 2021 and April 2022, seeking to build a robust foundation for the project funders to discuss with their respective communities. This will be achieved by undertaking a scoping review, expert interviews and an international workshop, with the overall objective of summarising existing evidence on the current and potential use of indicators for research integrity and proposing next steps as a basis for further engagement across the research community.

Why investigate integrity indicators?

The UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity is based on high-level principles – honesty, rigour, openness and transparency, care and respect, and accountability – and notes a wide range of stakeholder responsibilities. At present there is no agreed framework of indicators by which to assess how these principles are being applied in practice. To be a useful tool to evaluate current practice, and to plan and evaluate activities to improve research integrity, such a framework would need to recognise the diversity in the research system and the well-known challenges in both quantitative and qualitative indicators.

This project is therefore a preliminary scoping exercise. Building on the findings of seminal work in this area, including the Metric Tide report, the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), the Leiden Manifesto and the Hong Kong Principles, the project aims to identify tractable points where progress might be made toward indicators for research integrity and to highlight particularly challenging areas. In particular, it will seek the views of a balanced set of experts from across the international research landscape, ensuring that its findings are sufficiently nuanced, inclusive and in line with today’s best practices.

What happens next?

The initial review of the landscape will lead to the development of a public briefing document, including suggestions for new indicators and opportunities for possible next steps. The subsequent international workshop will then inform a consultation with the research community. Do you have any questions? Please get in touch with Neil Jacobs (UKRI) at neil.jacobs@ukri.org. To stay up to date with this project, please follow us at @GuildHE, @GuildHEResearch, @CRUKresearch and @rschconsulting.