The newly established UK Committee on Research Integrity (CORI) has announced its co-chairs, Professor Andrew George MBE and Professor Rachael Gooberman-Hill.
CORI has been launched by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as a free-standing committee to support research integrity across the sector.
UKRI chief executive Prof Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “I am delighted to announce the appointment of Professor George and Professor Gooberman-Hill as the UK CORI co-chairs. They are exemplary researchers who will bring both energy and wide experience to the role.”
In 2021, Dame Ottoline told MPs the committee would “address long-standing systemic pressures that can undermine” fair and open procedures.
Prof Andrew George has been deputy vice-chancellor at Brunel University, where he oversaw education and international partnerships. Prof George also managed the development of improving research transparency and ethics within the NHS.
Prof Gooberman-Hill is the director of a large research institute at the University of Bristol. Gooberman-Hill is an anthropologist and has built collaborations that have research integrity, governance, and support for continual improvement at their heart.
“As co-chairs, our vision is for UK CORI to contribute to a values-based approach to research integrity, and we believe in recognising and involving the public as co-owners of research,” said George.
Gooberman-Hill commented: “Both Andrew and I believe in the quality, strength and importance of UK research. As co-chairs of UK CORI, we’re fully committed to supporting research to take pride in its integrity.”
The co-chairs will be replacing Dr Helen Munn, who chaired and led the development of the committee in its interim period. UKRI has said that her “energy and principled approach” has created a strong foundation for the establishment of UK CORI.
Following engagement across the sector, UK CORI plans to:
- create opportunities for discussion, build consensus and develop co-ownership of integrity issues across the sector
- build and communicate the evidence base around UK research integrity
- identify how systemic pressures affect research integrity, and harness opportunities for change and improvement
- work with partners to enhance progress through the Concordat to Support Research Integrity, and advise on how oversight of UK research integrity should operate over the long term.
The new co-chairs will appoint members to join the committee, meeting for the first time in late spring 2022.
Three years ago, the House of Commons science and technology committee recommended that UKRI establish a national committee that would produce an annual report, engage with industry and independently verify if institutions were investigating alleged misconduct appropriately. Dame Ottoline confirmed that a body along the lines outlined by the 2018 Commons committee report would be up and running by early 2022.
In its report, the committee, then chaired by Norman Lamb, warned: “The current lack of consistent transparency means that it is impossible to assess the scale of the research integrity issue, leading to accusations that parts of the sector are policing themselves in a secretive way in order to maintain its reputation or, worse, a perception that investigations are not conducted properly in order to avoid embarrassment.”
The report said the research concordat, while positive, had not achieved universal compliance – and struggled to drive improvements because its high-level recommendations meant acquiescence at sector-level was hard to assess. The committee also accused sector bodies of failing to deliver “coordinated leadership” to drive the implementation of the concordat in universities, “such as transparency in declaring the number of misconduct investigations carried out each year”.
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