The world conference on research integrity: a conference like no other

The World Conferences on Research Integrity foster the exchange of information and discussion about responsible conduct of research”, at least that is what they say about themselves on their website. And that is indeed what I experienced. People with various backgrounds (researchers, whistleblowers, publishers, ombudsmen, and policymakers) talking about research integrity, using one of the broadest definitions that I might have seen.

This opened up my eyes and sparked my interest, but it also makes me wonder whether or not the discussion/audience was too broad for a single conference. Besides this, the conference was set up to look beyond the usual by programming, rightfully, a lot of time and attention to the role of the global south. Words like equity, fairness, capacity building etc were often used in various sessions of this conference with the tagline “‘Fostering Research Integrity in an Unequal World’. I understand the need, and I support the idea of making this the main theme, yet I have the feeling that the theme was spread too thin over the whole conference and thereby lost some of its power.

Anyway, I was not only there to consume. I chaired a couple of sessions (I especially liked oral session 15!) and I gave a talk on our newest project. That project aims to build an open, indexed, searchable, and complete overview of all cases of scientific misconduct allegations in the Netherlands. In my talk, I gave the arguments for such a platform and provided a first overview of the design requirements. We decided to strengthen our message by sharing the slides and our preprint that we shared on our OSF page – a decision I do not regret, as you might understand from the stats in the tweet below.

But the most important thing about the conference was meeting others. There is simply no good substitute (online or otherwise) for haphazard meetings with interesting people while waiting in the coffee line.