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[Editorial] Assessing researchers with a focus on research integrity

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More than 500 participants will gather in Hong Kong on June 2–5 for the sixth World Conference on Research Integrity (WCRI). One of the ambitions of the WCRIs is to advance research integrity globally by setting standards and agreeing on principles of organising and conducting research. The Singapore Statement, an outcome of the second WCRI in 2010, highlighted four principles and 14 professional responsibilities for researchers and others involved in the research enterprise. The Montreal Statement, developed as part of the third WCRI in 2013, focused on specific challenges for research collaborations.

The sixth WCRI aims to contribute to reforming the way that researchers are assessed. A draft of the Hong Kong Manifesto for Assessing Researchers: Fostering Research Integrity was posted on the conference website on April 11 and is open for comment for the next 3 weeks. The current approach to research assessment, which is prevalent in many academic institutions and countries, is inadequate at best and creates perverse incentives for poor research conduct at worst. The approach involves counting publications without real quality assessment beyond the journal impact factor (a measure that says nothing about a specific paper's relevance or quality), and adding up an individual's grant income. The Hong Kong Manifesto suggests six principles, which might form the basis of a new more comprehensive way of assessing researchers with a special focus on strengthening and rewarding research integrity. The principles include: societal need as a goal for research; responsible indicators that broadly reflect the contribution to the research enterprise; the need to publish or report all research completely and transparently; a culture of open research; the differentiated recognition of different research types, such as exploratory research and replication; and the inclusion of other contributions to the research enterprise, such as peer review and improving the research environment. A further revised Manifesto will then be discussed at the conference in focus group sessions. It is hoped that a final version will be widely endorsed as a first step to implementing these principles.
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