Scientists discuss science assessments and research integrity at Beijing workshop

The ICSU Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the conduct of Science (CFRS), together with the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), held a workshop this week on the topic of "Science Assessment and Research Integrity", exploring how different methods of research assessment can be used to incentivize integrity in the conduct of science. The workshop had a special focus on the situation in emerging and rapidly developing science systems, such as China, Brazil and South Africa.

Scientists discuss science assessments and research integrity at Beijing workshop

On Wednesday, 9 April, around 60 scientists gathered at the Beijing International Convention Centre to learn about the intertwined issues of science assessment and research integrity. Several high-level speakers presented on the situation in China, including Zhang Yaping, Vice-President of CAS; Yang Wei, President of the National Natural Science Foundation of China and Mu Rongping, Director-General of the CAS Institute of Policy and Management and the Center for Innovation and Development. Speakers from Brazil and South Africa provided an international context for the discussion, and CFRS member Ashima Anand outlined how science assessment influences research integrity.

In their talks, the speakers presented both the history of science assessment in their countries and how this has helped develop the respective science and innovation systems. They also looked at the challenges that can arise from an over reliance on metrics or their misuse. This was followed by a lively discussion of ways that current metrics can be refined or used differently to improve incentives for ethical research behaviour, and the limitations of metrics.

It was clear at the end of the day that defining good science assessment methods and metrics will remain a core challenge for the scientific community at a time when both the role of science in society and the environment it is conducted in is changing rapidly. CFRS will continue its work to inform both the ICSU membership and the scientific community more broadly on this issue, including by contributing to the 4th World Conference on Research Integrity in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2015.