Product has been added to the basket

House of Commons Science and Technology Committee - Research Integrity

The House of Comons Science and Technology Committee have launched an inquiry into Research Integrity. Details of the inquiry can be found on the committee website.

The submission produced by the Geological Society can be found below:

Submitted 7 March 2017

1. The Geological Society (GSL) is the UK’s learned and professional body for geoscience and a major international Earth science publisher with about 12,000 Fellows (members) worldwide. The Fellowship encompasses those working in industry, academia, regulatory agencies and government, many of whom are actively involved in the scholarly communication process as authors, peer reviewers and editors. As a publisher, we produce a number of peer reviewed journals and books totalling about 8-10,000 pages of peer reviewed content annually.

2. We are not in a position to answer many of the questions outlined in the Terms of Reference but we thought it might be helpful to set out the approach we take as a learned society publisher. Our submission below is intended to be useful background into how we manage this important issue.

3. We take publishing ethics and maintenance of standards very seriously and as an academic publisher we frequently review and amend our codes and regulations around publishing to assess whether they are fit for purpose. In terms of our own protocols and procedures, we have a strong Code of Publishing Ethics that all authors must adhere to if they wish to submit to our titles. This code also covers reviewers and editors working on or journals and books.

4. A step that was taken by our Council in 2014 was to strengthen the guidance in respect of rock sampling in the field, as it relates to published data and research. This came about in part because of some instances of unpermitted rock sampling at sites around the UK and was of particular concern in our field. Our code was amended to include the stipulation that any data from samples used in the published material must be collected in a responsible manner and in compliance with the Geologists’ Association Geological Fieldwork Code. This area of regulation fits well within the remit of a learned society and is an example of where we were able to promote best practice in research integrity. A number of other Earth science publishers have subsequently made similar stipulations, as a result of which it has become considerably harder to publish research based on improperly sampled material.

5. As a publisher, we treat all complaints and evidence of unethical behaviour seriously and all complaints are investigated and reported according to a strict internal procedure. As part of our Code of Publishing Ethics, we require authors to acknowledge the source of their funding – information that will soon be available in our metadata - and we make all supplementary data available on an online digital repository called Figshare where researchers can preserve and share their research outputs. Each supplementary dataset has its own DOI and its own metadata and the Society provides guidance for authors on how to manage larger datasets.

6. In terms of updating our ethics practices, we are currently experimenting with author contribution statements. This allows the lead author to assign the names of individuals to specific roles in the research and writing that leads to the submission of a manuscript for review and publication. We are also looking at how to integrate conflict of interest statements into our publishing procedure to bolster transparency and we are implementing a plagiarism check for submitted content.

7. Further information on the Society’s Code of Publishing Ethics is available on our website