During the last days of May, the 5th World Conference of Research Integrity took place in Amsterdam. While research integrity does not necessarily encompass all aspects of independence of research, Marlene and Cora attended the conference hoping for new perspectives especially on independence of research from industry funding and other conflicts of interests. The conference covered a wide variety of topics from research misconduct, teaching Responsible Conduct of Research, replicability, policies regarding research integrity to the role of funders, governments and institutions for research integrity.
One of the highlights was a meet-the-expert-session with Daniele Fanelli, who is known for his research about research misconduct and bias in research. According to him, biases like the small study bias (studies that have, for whatever reason, small samples are at risk to overestimate effects) are a major reason for the lack of reproducibility within the sciences being lamented at the moment. Brian Nosek’s talk on the cultural and mental constraints on research integrity was also inspirational. He spoke about the reasons why it is difficult for scientists to follow the ideals that they believe in – partly because of restraints set by the research system, partly because of psychological biases and psychological needs that impact their research independence. In a meet-the-expert session he elaborated on how incentives in science could be changed and improved to take these psychological restraints into consideration. Other interesting talks were those of M. Ulig and J. Sebastiaansen on citation bias and A. Roest on pooled trials publication bias. Of course, another highlight was the conference dinner in the National Maritime Museum of Amsterdam, where we socialized with other researchers in the field of “research on research”.
Loaded with lots of new ideas and now able to see our own research in a new perspective, we headed back to Mainz on Wednesday evening.