Scientific integrity

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The University of Bordeaux is moving into action to guarantee the scientific integrity of research, in line with initiatives taken at the national level.

Photo : The Department of Biological & Medical Sciences © Gautier Dufau
The Department of Biological & Medical Sciences © Gautier Dufau

Towards an honest and credible approach

Methodological rigour and intellectual honesty are the foundations of the scientific approach.
That assertion, which should be self-evident, has nevertheless been abused in recent years, as a result of debates and controversies that are often devoid of scientific basis, and that are also served by an increasing amount of fake news.

No subject has been spared, not even some very important ones, including climate change, vaccination and genetically modified organisms. As such, sorting the wheat from the chaff is often a challenge for the general public.

In theory, scientific discourse is there to enable the public to find its way. In practice, only the demands of the approach, in other words, rigour and honesty, are likely to give credibility to the discourse, and neglecting those values has caused considerable harm to the scientific community, even more than cases of fraud, which are admittedly widely publicised but remain the exception.

An all the more striking fact given that scientific production is picking up substantial speed, reaching two million publications every year. So much literature is only meaningful if it follows the contours of methodological rigour patiently developed by modern science over the last five centuries.

It is in this context that a large part of the French scientific community was motivated to sign the French National Charter for Research Integrity. In particular, it was initialled by the Conference of University Presidents and the main research organisations in January 2015.

Two years later, and following the recommendations of the Corvol Report - named after the professor in the Collège de France who at the time made 16 proposals aimed at strengthening scientific integrity and ethics - the French Office of Scientific Integrity (OFIS) was created, reporting to the High Council for Evaluation of Research and Higher Education (HCERES).

French National Charter for Research Integrity (in French)

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Initiatives underway at the University of Bordeaux

The University of Bordeaux is fully committed to these initiatives: in January 2016, it co-organised the conference "L'intégrité scientifiqué: parlons-en !" (Scientific integrity: let's talk about it!).

The following year, the university also adopted a Code of Ethics for research and development: responsibilities, management of conflicts of interest and handling allegations of breaches of scientific integrity.

The Code reviews the obligations of the university and of all those who participate in scientific research conducted in its labs. It indicates the procedure to follow in the event of witnessing such a breach, which, under French law, must be reported.

The university made another commitment to the topic by appointing a scientific integrity officer, who can be contacted for any question related to the field.

Lastly, the University of Bordeaux provides free training open to anyone who is interested in learning about what constitutes honest and responsible research.
The training MOOC is entitled: "Scientific Integrity in Research Professions".

Through all these initiatives, the University intends to contribute to the rigour and ethics of the scientific process, which are the foundations of its credibility.

Code of Ethics for research and development (in French)

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