Research Integrity in 2022 continues to focus on efforts made by scholarly publishers to maintain the integrity of the published record. We continue to hold publishers and journal editors accountable when we see a publication that doesn’t meet our expectations of scholarly discourse. It seems that as we occupy the research ecosystem jointly with researchers and institutions, some of the responsibility to uphold research integrity may be considered shared with journal editors and publishers.
As a Publisher, SAGE believe that there are steps researchers can take to uphold research integrity principles more proactively and avoid post-publication disputes.
- Pre-specify your study protocol: If you work within Clinical Research, it is good practice to pre-specify the methods, design, and all analyses in your study protocol. Ad-hoc statistical analyses are sometimes inevitable, but there is merit in deciding the appropriate method before data collection to avoid concerns around any bias.
- Agree on the author and contributor group, ensure no one is left off: Publishers get a high number of authorship disputes, and these are lengthy disputes that are often complicated to resolve. It is highly desirable that the author and contributor group meet and discuss the publication of the work at an early stage of the research project.
- Check with an ethics committee if you require approval: If you are starting research with human subjects, consult your ethics committee informally to ask whether your planned research falls within their remit. Too many researchers don’t realise their research requires approval from an institutional ethics committee or institutional review board. It is worth remembering that if authors sit on an ethics committee that is likely to evaluate their research, it is appropriate to recuse those authors from the evaluation process.
- Consider whether a Registered Report format is appropriate for your work: Many disciplines benefit from the Registered Report model of Publishing research whereby you publish the Stage 1 Registered Report containing the background and methodology sections prior to commencing the research. This model encourages researchers to avoid changing their study design and methodology partway through the data collection or data analyses phases.
- Researchers as reviewers: Reviewers are best placed as subject experts to provide attention to anomalies in study design that the Editor may not pick up on. Reviewers can determine if appropriate methods are used, the correct reporting guidelines have been followed, and there are any specialist aspects of the study that they wouldn’t be able to comment on. Referring other specialist reviewers to evaluate specific parts of a research submission has tremendous value. These are important mechanisms by which researchers can influence the publishing process and help journals publish high quality and ethical research.
- Add your datasets to a stable and public repository: While the tide on mandatory data-sharing is changing, it is crucial to remember that the research community hugely benefits from raw data sharing practices, in addition to the traditional research outputs of journal articles and conference proceedings. Data sharing enables error detection, reduces time and effort on replication of findings, and can help train junior researchers. Furthermore, datasets that don’t get published as a research article can be added to a repository and can be cited as any other research output. It is noteworthy that many researchers in the world rely on openly available data to carry on doing research, perhaps due to the nature of their study or due to lack of funds to undertake primary research.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, and there are many discipline specific nuances that can be added in a future blog post.
For Peer Review Week, SAGE are highlighting ways in which authors can uphold the principles of research integrity and help us publish high quality, ethical research. Check out all of the content in the series here.
Attribution: This post was written by Adya Misra, Research Integrity and Inclusion Manager at SAGE Publishing
About the Author: Adya Misra is an experienced publishing professional with expertise in publication ethics and clinical research. Adya has worked in senior editorial roles at PLOS and PeerJ bringing together subject level expertise in molecular biology, medicine and public health along with hands-on experience in publication ethics/research integrity principles. Adya has a broad interest in evidence based research, science communication and research integrity, all of which have developed via initiatives at various employers and in her previous life as an academic researcher.