Council gives evidence on research culture to the Science and Technology Select Committee

Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, who chaired of the Council’s steering group on the culture of scientific research, gave oral evidence to the Science and Technology Select Committee on 24 October as part of its inquiry on research integrity.

The Council published a report on the culture of scientific research in 2014. The report highlighted that the hypercompetitive culture of academic science, and the way in which science and scientists are assessed, can have a negative impact on the production of high quality, ethical and valuable science.

Ottoline said during the session: “We have developed a culture that rewards science that is right and exciting. Real science welcomes challenge and constructive feedback.”

“We go for the easy option when we use journal papers and funding income as measures of research and researcher quality. Diversity in our assessment criteria is key to changing the culture of research.”

Ottoline added: “Given that when we published our report in 2014 we found that many people in the system felt powerless, I am particularly excited by grassroots movements of junior researchers who are really starting to fight.”

Professor Dorothy Bishop of the University of Oxford and Dr Arnaud Vaganay of Meta-Lab also gave evidence in the session. The discussion was reported in the BMJ the following day.

The inquiry was initiated following the publication of a POSTnote on research integrity by Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) in January. The POSTnote considers current approaches to promoting integrity in research, assessment and the role of peer review, and identifies the main challenges and suggestions for improvements that could be made to ease institutional pressures on researchers.

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