“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.
Last week was the first edition of the European Congress on Thrombosis and Hemostasis in the Hague (NL). The idea of this conference is to provide a platform for european thrombosis researchers and doctors to meet in the dull years between ISTH meetings. There is a strong emphasis on enabling and training the young researchers, as can be from the different activities and organisational aspects. One os these things was the Junior advisory board, of which I was part. We had the task to give advice both solicited and unsolicited, and help organise and shape some of the innovative aspects. For example: we had the so-called fast and furious sessions, where authors of the best abstract were asked to let go of the standard presentation format and share their research TED talk style.
I learned a lot during these sessions, and even got in contact with some groups that have interesting methods and approaches that we might apply in our studies and patient populations. My thoughts: targeting FXII and FXI as well as DNAse treatment are the next big thing. We also had a great selection of speakers for meet-the-experts and how-to sessions. These sessions demanded active participation of all participants which is really a great way to build new collaborations and friendships.
The wednesday plenary sessions, including the talks on novel and innovative methods of scholarly communications as well as the very well received sessions from Malcolm Macloud on reducing research waste where inspiring to all. Missed it? do not worry, they have shared their slides online!
All in all, the conference was a great success in both numbers (750+ participants) as well as scientific quality. I am looking forward to the next edition, which will be held in Marseille in two years time. Hope to see you all there!
My first conference experience (ISTH 2008, Boston) got me hooked on science. All these people doing the same thing, speaking the same language, and looking to show and share their knowledge. This is true when you are involved in the organisation. Organising the international soccer match at the Olympic stadium in Amsterdam linked to the ISTH 2013 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the NVTH was fun. But lets not forget the exciting challenge of organising the WEON 2014.
And now, the birth of a new conference, the European Congress of Thrombosis and Hemostasis, which will be held in The Hague in Netherlands (28-30 sept 2016). I am very excited for several reasons: First of all, this conference will fill in the gap of the bi-annual ISTH conferences. Second, I have the honor to help out as the chair of the junior advisory board. Third, the Hague! My old home town!
So, we have 10 months to organise some interesting meetings and activities, primary focussed on the young researchers. Time to get started!
I am back in the Netherlands this week. I’ve got some meetings planned, catching up with former colleagues, meeting some new people interested in working together on new projects I am starting up in Berlin, and of course I am meeting some friends along the way. But there is one more reason for me to go to the Netherlands this week: I was invited to the Interaction between legal systems conference. This international conference is organized by the Law faculty in Leiden and is focused on how different legal systems interact, but also how legal systems interact with other fields of research and areas of expertise (e.g. psychology, statistics and epidemiology). More information on the conference can be found here.
But what am I doing there? I am going to talk about my interdisciplinary project on how civil law, and especially liability cases, relate to causal inference in epidemiology. This project, together with ILS conference organiser PWdH, is one of my pet projects in which we compare the concepts behind causal inference in both clinical epidemiology as well as legal systems. Both systems rely on the condicio sine qua non principle, where the idea is that the consequence of a cause would not have happened if the cause would not have been present. This idea is of course known as the counter factual theory in epidemiology, and is related to the potential outcomes approach. But this is only the start, as there are several problems and challenges that come up: although epidemiology has recognized the idea of multi causality for some time (think component causes), legal systems have only been working with this only for a couple of years and with some hesitance. A way to use this in liability claims is to use proportional liability, where the claim should be proportional to the number of factors the defendant is responsible for. Sounds cool, but how to get to a fair division? How to interpret evidence? And can we use population measures like the population attributable fraction to substantiate a ruling on individual level?
I am invited to talk about this project, bust mostly and to tell the story of interdisciplinary research. It goes without saying that working on something so far from your own comfort zone brings along a lot of challenges and problems. For example since you can only oversee the quality and relevance of part of the project, you have might have the feeling that what you are working on is kind of useless (really, is this interesting?). But on the other hand, the questions that came up during this project also provided me with some insight into the concepts of epidemiology. Explaining why the things in your field are as they are will confront you will inconsistencies in your field and in your own thinking. I noticed that this project learned me a lot about the things I thought I understood, and that is for me the true added value of interdisciplinary research.
– update jan 26: I uploaded a pdf version of the presentation, which can be found here (pdf) – update march 17:I visited Leiden again, now on the invitation of the dept of criminal law to talk about the concept of multi causality. We decided that we might need to braoden this into a dutch publication, with e viewpoint from both tort law and criminal law. Interesting!
The WEON is the annual meeting of the VVE, the Dutch Epidemiological Society. The whole conference is held in English though, given that each more and more non Dutch also attend. These might be working here in the Netherlands, but we also have visitors from abroad. Last year, the WEON was organised in Utrecht with a couple of organisation from Utrecht and surroundings. The conference was a great succes with great preconferecence workshops and great plenary speakers, as I wrote before on the causality blog.
But now onto next year, when the WEON will be held in Leiden! Before you start with anything, you need to start with a motto and logo. Since the focusgroup “causality” is also based in Leiden the motto and the logo are off course linked to causal inference! Currently, we are working hard on the basic program. And specifically, I’m working on a special preconference workshop that is targeted at young epidemiologist. I got some ideas, but if you have any suggestions, please join the conversation via @WEON2014!