Advice on Scientific Integrity from a Tripartisan Group from Academia, Business, and Government

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Scientific Integrity at a Glance

A tripartisan group from academia, business, and government joined together to author advice on scientific integrity, including paying more attention to transparency, supporting findings by publishing underlying data, and posting detailed methods, among other things, to overcome the rising distrust in science.

Scientific Integrity Issues in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry: Improving Research Reproducibility, Credibility, and Transparency

In a “post-truth” world, where objective facts are becoming less influential in shaping public opinion (and policy) than appeals to emotion and personal belief, a group of industry, academic, and government scientists took it upon themselves to explore the topic of scientific integrity. Gradient scientists Mr. Mayfield and Dr. Verslycke contributed to this effort and co-authored an upcoming publication in the journal Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, titled “Scientific Integrity Issues in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry: Improving Research Reproducibility, Credibility, and Transparency.”

The authors describe scientific integrity as a set of norms similar to those taught from a young age:

  • Tell the truth, and tell the whole truth (no data sanitizing, no selective reporting, and all conflicts reported);
  • tell both sides of the story (avoid bias);
  • do your own work (no plagiarism);
  • read the book, not just the back cover before writing your report (properly research and cite primary sources);
  • show your work for full credit (transparency);
  • share (publish your work and data in peer-reviewed outlets for collective learning);
  • and listen (with humility and collegial fraternity to observations and suggestions of others).

Specifically, the authors describe how scientific integrity can be harnessed by high quality environmental research that is characterized by rigor, relevance, reproducibility, and objectivity and discuss each of these in more detail in the paper. The authors conclude with a number of actions that could be taken to maintain and improve a culture of scientific integrity, such as: scientific institutions should increase attention to quality management training; scientific journals should require that all supporting data of a published study be included and strongly discourage accepting studies that lack such data; science users should be discouraged from judging science solely on the basis of its funder and should instead maintain an open-minded skepticism; and professional societies should help foster respectful evidence-based dialog during meetings and support scientific integrity training seminars.