The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee has called for greater integrity and data disclosure in peer-reviewed literature. It recommends that all UK research institutions should have “a specific member of staff leading on research integrity”.
MPs are also concerned that research quangos should be wary of the journal “Impact Factor” when commissioning new work. MPs also call for open peer review and pre-publication, saying social network tools can be a boon.
The inquiry into peer review came after the release of the Climategate files, which revealed academics at the University of East Anglia selectively disclosing data needed to replicate their results, hiding from Freedom of Information Act requests, recommending destruction of email trails, and vowing to “redefine” the peer-review process to keep papers they disagreed with out of the publication system.
Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the Committee, said:
“Although it is not the role of peer review to police research integrity and identify fraud or misconduct, it does, on occasion, identify suspicious cases,” said select committee chairman Andrew Miller MP. “While there is guidance in place for journal editors when ethical misconduct is suspected, we found the general oversight of research integrity in the UK to be unsatisfactory and complacent.”
MPs evidently weren’t impressed by the testimony from Philip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief of Nature, who complained at the expense involved in researchers’ making their data available for replication.