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EACME Conference 2016 – 30 years of European Bioethics

When: September 8-10, 2016
Where: Leuven, Belgium
This year’s conference focusses on a variety of ethical issues, including Ethics and Integrity in Research.
Deadline for abstract submission: March 1, 2016

Call Fostering Responsible Research Practices (Bevorderen verantwoorde onderzoekspraktijken)

ZonMw calls for research proposals (pillar 1) and life cycle projects (pillar 3). At the moment, the information on the ZonMw website is in Dutch, but the program outline, describing the pillars, is available in English. When all information becomes available in English, we will publish the links here as well.
Deadline for applications: September 13th, 2016, 14:00h.

Read also:
Announcement of call for replication studies
Times Higher Education about these calls

Masterclass John PA Ioannidis

Excellent young researchers who study the credibility and clinical relevance of biomedical research, are invited to apply for the masterclass by John Ioannidis, on November 18th. Deadline for application is September 15th. Places are limited, a committee will select the participants and notify all applicants by October 6th. Young researchers are PhD-students in the final stage of their PhD-studies and researchers ups to four years after obtaining their PhD. Several participants can present their own research related to reducing waste in research. That could be methodological topics, factors related to publication pressure, consequences of metrics, etc.

Call for papers: Academic misconduct & misrepresentation

From Fraud and Plagiarism to Fake Peer Reviews, Citation Rings, Gaming Rankings, Dodgy Journals, “Vacation” Conferences, and Beyond
This special issue of Research Policy solicits articles not only focussing on the traditional forms of misconduct (FFP) but also misconduct and questionable research practices that target the publication system (fake reviews, dubious journals, citation rings etc). Deadline for submission: December 31st, 2016.

Announcement of call for replication studies

NWO is making 1 million euros per year available, for a period of three years, for a Replication Studies pilot programme. The call will be opened in September.

Read also:
Call Fostering Responsible Research Practices
Times Higher Education about these calls

PDF’s available of Research Conference presentations

A PDF of most presentations of the 1st NRIN Research Conference that was held on May 25th are now available online. See the program page. Some more presentations will follow.

9th IMI Call

The European Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has launched a Call (Call 9) for proposals on major challenges in drug development. Data quality is one of the focus areas of this Call (Topic 3). Primary aims of this Topic are to boost data quality in medical research by identifying factors that affect data quality, identifying best practices and creating an educational platform. It will focus initially on the fields of neuroscience and preclinical medicines safety. The consortium has a total budget of close on €4.5 million for applicants; this is matched by EFPIA (European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations) companies, which pay for their own contribution to address these questions.
The Call is open for submissions from applicant consortia; submission deadline is 26 July 2016. More information about the topic and how to apply can be found at the IMI website.

Recent article: Interventions to prevent misconduct and promote integrity in research and publication (member review)

by Rikard Juttmann
In the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, April 4th, 2016, the systematical review “Interventions to prevent misconduct and promote integrity in research and publication” was published by Ana Marusic et.al. I strongly recommend this paper for reading by NRIN members. The objective of the authors was to evaluate the effectiveness of especially educational interventions in research integrity or responsible conduct of research on the behavior and attitudes of researchers in health and other research areas. For this purpose they searched, following the standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane, relevant articles published between 1990 and 2014. Thirty-one studies published in 33 papers met the inclusion criteria, including 15 randomized controlled trials and 16 observationally controlled studies. In short, with the exception of some inconsistent effects on participants’ attitudes towards plagiarism and their confidence in avoiding it, the authors found very low quality evidence that various methods of training in research integrity had some effects on participants’ attitudes to ethical issues but minimal (or short-lived) effects on their knowledge.

Three different conclusions resulting from these data seem to be possible:

  1. Training of researchers in scientific integrity is useless.
  2. The evidence base relating to interventions to improve research integrity is incomplete and the studies that have been done are heterogeneous, inappropriate for meta-analyses and their applicability to other settings and population is uncertain. This research field is immature. Extent and methodology should be upgraded.
  3. The authors, as well as the authors of the investigated papers, are by and large moving astray. Randomized and other clinical trials and meta-analyses of such studies are conceived as devices for evaluating pharmaceutical interventions. The extension to the evaluation of other medical interventions is generally accepted as standard, but has nevertheless delivered considerable methodological challenges, which presently are not even entirely met yet. Extension to evaluation of training programs is one step too far. Such studies are just unfit for approaching with this research paradigm.

Obviously, the authors of the paper support the second possibility and advocate further exploration and exploitation of the research field they have investigated, as to falsify the first conclusion. Supporters of the third conclusion may not sit back in skepticism, but are obliged to look for alternative research paradigms for evaluating the effects of training on researchers’ ethical attitudes and acting.

Call for movies: Movies that matter…

To be a scientist can be hard. There are many rules of scientific conduct, but there is also reality. The question is: how can we improve Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) education in a way that students are better prepared for the work, problems, pressures and temptations that they might encounter? We are currently experimenting with the use of movies in RCR-education. Movies can be useful because students can identify and empathize with the (main) characters and get a feel of the moral dilemmas and sometimes subconscious values and unwritten rules in academia. For our project we are looking for more movies (fiction and documentary) that deal with research integrity. If you have any suggestions please let us know at info@nrin.nl!

Important research on publication bias

By Rikard Juttmann MD PhD – retired coordinator scientific integrity Erasmus MC


Publication bias is the most radical threat to the value of science, in particular where clinical research is concerned. The most eloquent protagonist of this point of view is, in my opinion, Ben Goldacre. In the Erasmus MC Scientific Integrity Course for PhD-students we always show the students Goldacre’s brilliant TED-talk on this subject, which I also heartily recommend to the NRIN members. Please find this performance in the following link. Goldacre argues that the substantial lack of information on unpublished clinical research data impedes effective treatment by physicians and undermines the confidence in medical science in general. Moreover, we don’t apprehend the extent and nature of this lack of knowledge, which makes things even worse. However, we don’t have to bow to this situation. Publication bias concerns, to paraphrase former US defense minister Donald Rumsfeld, “the known unknown”. It is about data we know that exist, but are unavailable. In contrast to Rumsfeld “unknown unknown”, at least efforts can be made to unveil unpublished clinical research data as much as possible and to investigate the reasons and circumstances leading to their absence in the published medical literature. A valuable attempt to do this is undertaken by C.A. van den Bogert et.al. They published the design of an inception cohort study to the occurrence and determinants of selective reporting of clinical drug trials in the Netherlands initiated in 2007, in BMJ Open. Please find this paper in the following link. The results of this study will be published halfway 2016. The NRIN newsletter will report and comment on these results at the same time.

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