Good, effective policymaking that produces outcomes that benefit, protect and sustain society, communities, groups and individuals depends upon robust, rigorous, and interpretable research. If research is flawed by lacking integrity and by being conducted unethically it is of no use to policymakers. The PRO-RES project, coordinated by the European Science Foundation (ESF), France, aims at building a research ethics and integrity framework devised cooperatively with, and seen as acceptable by, the full range of relevant stakeholders and similar to the Oviedo and Helsinki frameworks, but with emphasis on non-medical science fields. The European Commission has now approved its funding.
Decision takers and policymakers seek evidence to support their work from the range of expertise on offer. Any errors, fraud or corrupt practices by researchers in these fields can lead to serious damage to the social, economic and cultural structure of society, as well as having deleterious impacts on the physical environment. As a corollary, sound, reliable and transparent research, divorced from political ideology and undeclared vested interests, produces robust evidence to benefit social wellbeing and societal progress.
A consortium of 14 scientific institutions from ten countries coordinated by the ESF will undertake an extensive dialogue with relevant stakeholders with the aim to create an Oviedo/Helsinki type framework that could apply to the full range of non-medical sciences drawing upon previous foundational work funded by the EC, and other national and international agencies.
“The key issue for PRO-RES is to be as inclusive as possible when targeting the ‘non-medical’ sciences. The consortium partner composition is very diverse by design, ensuring that all relevant communities, to the extent possible, are represented.” says Dr. Jean-Claude Worms, Chief Executive of ESF, coordinator PRO-RES.
The inclusion of key policymaking groups from the beginning of the project is a major strategic aim of PRO-RES. The project partners are gearing up to identify and contact such groups in order to involve them in the process. Policymakers will see that, by influencing the direction of the PRO-RES project, they will be supplying themselves with a framework that assists with efficient policy option appraisals and reliable, trusted evidence for their implementation.
“Those of us who have been working in this field for many years have been eagerly awaiting such an opportunity. This ‘Science With and For Society’ funding Call targets the very people we need to reach to ensure that pleas for integrity in science and research are more than mere tokens. Ethical values, principles and standards need to pervade the research process from start to finish – they need to be part of the ‘culture’ of research and science policy must recognise that need and the most effective way to support it. ” says Dr. Ron Iphofen, initiator of the PRO-RES idea.
Valuable foundational endeavours have been accomplished but have often been insufficiently acknowledged in subsequent advances. PRO-RES will seek to incorporate the best practice findings in currently funded research and liaise with concurrent project leaders. While the Call specifically seeks to emulate the Oviedo/Helsinki framework, we acknowledge the debt owed to the many existing codes and guidelines in non-medical fields. Many international organisations have continued to review and update their ethical codes over many years and PRO-RES will take account of those developments.
“The PRO-RES framework will not seek to ‘reinvent the wheel’ since many excellent codes, guidelines and frameworks already exist. Our main tasks will be to gather all relevant work, consult with the right stakeholders, extract the common threads and synthesize it to a coherent and easy to understand whole”, says the Emmanouil Detsis, ESF, deputy coordinator of PRO-RES.
Research integrity has been an important part of the SoBigData project work and it can therefore build on its existing knowledge and networks in the domain of research integrity in the frame of PRO-RES. The direct involvement of SoBigData Project in the frame of PRO-RES is to disseminate ethics and privacy among Data Scientists and will accompany all partners during the three years of the project with two dedicated workshop. Stay tuned for the dates and the specific topics!
The European Union is funding the PRO-RES project as part of the Horizon2020 framework program.
Dr Emmanuel Detsis, ESF Science Officer, tel: ++33 3 88 76 71 54, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
SoBigData project email: email@example.com