Universities in Singapore adopt a unified set of standards for research publications, to advance research ethics

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Research

To harmonise policies and further establish their commitment to research integrity, universities in Singapore namely A*STAR, NTU, NUS and SUTD have adopted a unified set of standards for research publications.

At an inaugural joint conference on research integrity this week, A*STAR, NUS, NTU and SUTD have issued a joint statement that outlines the research publication principles that their researchers must adhere to.

These principles will allow these institutions to maintain the highest standards of research and publication ethics.

Key Principles

  1. Leadership: Senior research personnel must lead by example in upholding the highest standards and provide active oversight and management of the research work that goes into publication.
  2. Honesty: Research personnel must ensure consistency in data that are represented in the publication and prevent inappropriate or fraudulent data manipulation.
  3. Reproducibility: Research personnel must maintain accurate and detailed research records of procedures and results (for a minimum of 10 years), to allow others to replicate the work, and ensure reproducibility of one’s experimental results.
  4. Citation: Research personnel must provide appropriate citation for all usage of text, data or figures from other publications, sources or individuals, including from one’s previous publications. Plagiarism, including self-plagiarism, is unacceptable.
  5. Acknowledgement: Research personnel must appropriately recognize individuals who have contributed to their publications. Individuals and organisations who have contributed to the publication must be acknowledged, and those who have provided substantial intellectual contribution, and/or who have participated in the drafting of the publication, should be recognized as authors.
  6. Reporting: Research personnel must be proactive in reporting suspicious practices that do not meet these key principles to their respective institutions.

The statement has its roots in the Singapore Statement of Research Integrity issued in 2010, which aimed to develop unified codes of conduct and policies that would further greater research integrity worldwide.

Mr Lim Chuan Poh, Chairman of A*STAR said: “A robust culture of research integrity and ethics is critical for Singapore to succeed in its ambition to become Asia’s Innovation Capital. Research is a global undertaking, therefore it is crucial to inculcate the values of research integrity and develop shared practices among research communities. A more harmonised approach from the Singapore research community is vital for realising our goals for RIE2020. The universities and A*STAR have taken an important step towards achieving a nationwide commitment in this area.”

Professor Freddy Boey, Provost, Nanyang Technological University, said: “NTU has always taken research integrity seriously and has a zero tolerance towards research misconduct. This Joint Statement with the other leading research institutions in Singapore is based on the Singapore Statement drawn up at the Second World Conference on Research Integrity in 2010 that was initiated and hosted by NTU. This new statement re-iterates our commitment to maintaining the highest standards of integrity in research, especially in terms of research publications – the life blood and currency of research. It demonstrates our desire to work together to promote best practices in conducting research and presenting Singapore at the forefront of professionally responsible research practices.”

Professor Barry Halliwell, Senior Advisor to the President, National University of Singapore, said: “NUS established a strong code of research integrity in 2006 and we have been in detailed discussions with A*STAR and NTU to compare our codes and identify best practices. The Joint Statement is the first fruit of these labours, stating clearly the common key principles that we will all follow relating to integrity of publications.”

Professor Chong Tow Chong, Provost of SUTD, said: “Integrity is one of SUTD’s core values and the conduct of research with the highest standards of integrity is fundamental to SUTD. It is important to have a unified set of standards for research publications as this can help to ensure that researchers in different organisations are all adhering to the same codes of conduct. This will not only lead to a higher standard of research integrity and ethics in academia, but also in real findings that will help better the world for mankind.”

The conference was followed by breakout discussions involving leaders of the Singapore research community to share institutional best practices and discuss principles and standards for research integrity.

The four organisations are currently in discussion with other institutes of higher learning and grant administrating bodies on further adoption and commitment to a Singapore-wide statement.