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EMBO introduces research integrity workshops



Heidelberg, 24 July 2017 – Honesty, accountability, professional courtesy and fairness, and good stewardship – according to the Singapore Statement of Research Integrity, these are the four fundamental principles of responsible research.


EMBO contributed to the creation of this document during the World Conference on Research Integrity in Singapore. “Committing these principles to paper, was an important step in the right direction. Next, it is important to support researchers in embedding them in their everyday work,” says EMBO Science Policy Programme Manager Michele Garfinkel.


That is why EMBO initiated a set of pilot workshops to raise awareness of research integrity issues and encourage responsible research practices among life scientists in Europe. The sessions introduce the values of responsible research, explain internationally accepted definitions of misconduct and highlight questionable research practices. Misconduct cases that have been discussed publicly are used to illustrate the importance of honouring the principles of responsible research.


Pilot success


Following a pilot run of five research integrity workshops at institutes in Spain, Portugal, Finland, Italy and France, EMBO has now integrated these workshops in its regular activities. With a view to supporting the scientific community in creating an environment that fosters the highest scientific standards, EMBO will organize several such workshops per year.


“The feedback we received during the pilot sessions was overwhelmingly positive,” says EMBO Science Policy Programme Officer Sandra Bendiscioli, who organizes the workshops in collaboration with EMBO Members at the host institutes.


The discussions highlighted a general lack of awareness of inappropriate lab practices and their consequences for the participants – mostly senior postdocs and early-career group leaders. More importantly, according to Bendiscioli, “the sessions showed us that there was great appetite for discussing dilemmas and uncertainties in scientific research, and for putting in place structures or processes to foster good research practices.”


From awareness to actions


One of the participants in the workshop at the Spanish National Centre of Biotechnology in Madrid said it encouraged her “to think a lot about my behaviour in the lab, and I am going to propose a talk here in my building about research integrity.” Senior researchers at the Curie Institute in Paris went a step further and decided to provide compulsory training in research integrity issues for young group leaders after hosting a workshop.


One specific focus of the workshops is the importance of mentorship. Addressing the need for supporting and guiding young researchers, Howy Jacobs, local organizer of the workshop at the Institute for Biotechnology, Helsinki, set up an institute-wide academic mentorship committee, tasked with drawing up a comprehensive code of conduct for mentorship. In Porto, a working group to develop authorship guidelines for the i3S was set up by the institute’s Director, Mario Barbosa.


Working with the community


The research integrity workshops form part of EMBO’s activities on responsible research conduct. EMBO already requires all scientists funded through its Long-Term Fellowship Programme to complete an online training course on research integrity*. In addition, all four EMBO Press publications have put in place specific policies with the aim of fostering responsible research and reporting practices.


The sessions are organized and delivered by the EMBO Science Policy Programme in close collaboration with an EMBO Member at host institutes in EMBC Member States. Those members interested in co-organizing a workshop at their institute are welcome to contact the Science Policy Programme to express their interest in a future workshop or find out more information.



* EMBO was involved in the development of the Epigeum course “Research Integrity Certification and Assessment”. The online course is offered for free to all EMBO Members, Young Investigators and Long-Term Fellows. Any other life scientist interested in taking the course can find more information on the Epigeum website.





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Tilmann KiesslingTilmann Kiessling
Head, Communications
T. + 49 160 9019 3839