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 »  Home  »  Science  »  Croatia founded a national body for ethics in science
Croatia founded a national body for ethics in science
By Prof. Dr. Matko Marui | Published  07/10/2007 | Science | Unrated
Croatia deals with ethical issues in academics
Croatia founded a national body for ethics in science

Livia Puljak

Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, University of Split Medical School, Soltanska 2, Split, 21000, Croatia

Journal
Science and Engineering Ethics
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
ISSN1353-3452 (Print) 1471-5546 (Online)
Issue
Volume 13, Number 2 / June, 2007
CategoryOriginal Paper

Received: 16 February 2007 Accepted: 27 February 2007 Published online: 11 April 2007

Abstract The Committee for Ethics in Science and Higher Education (CESHE) was created in Croatia as a national body appointed by the Parliament. Thus Croatia became one of a handful of countries with national means of responding to allegations of scientific misconduct. The Committee's duties, with the help of the Ethics Code, include promotion of ethical norms and values in science and higher education. The CESHE will work on cases of possible research misconduct and alleged disregard for the ethical norms associated with research.
Keywords Research integrity - Ethics in higher education


The original publication is available at www.springerlink.com

Article on web: http://www.springerlink.com/content/q057105wqt726613/?p=fbf6f4a134e14da9af4105fcf2c36d00=5

A recently published editorial1 highlighted a specific instance of serial academic plagiarism of Croatian professor Asim Kurjak. This article has performed an invaluable service to the scientific community in drawing the attention to serial plagiarism, the inability of current quality control mechanisms to detect it and the comparatively light way in which it is dealt with once discovered. Unlike before, now there is an independent national body in Croatia for dealing with such problems.

The Committee for Ethics in Science and Higher Education (CESHE) was created in Croatia in February of 2006 as a national body appointed by the Parliament. Thus Croatia became one of a handful of countries with national means of responding to allegations of scientific misconduct.

As the necessity of publication for professional opportunity and advancement became apparent in the 1970s and 1980s, increasing news of scientific misconduct began to appear, and concerns over matters of authorship (including fraud, plagiarism, and unethical conduct) became topics of open discussion.2

Good science requires reliable data. Consequently, to protect the integrity of research, the scientific community took strong actions against perceived scientific misconduct.3

Research integrity: a worldwide problem and solutions

In response to mounting concerns, in 1989 the US Federal government established two oversight offices: Office of Scientific Integrity (OSI) and Office of Scientific Integrity Review (OSIR). In 1992, the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) replaced these two offices. The ORI promotes integrity in biomedical and behavioral research supported by the U. S. Public Health Service (PHS) at about 4,000 institutions worldwide. ORI monitors institutional investigations of research misconduct and facilitates the responsible conduct of research through educational, preventive, and regulatory activities.4

The Nordic countries have also been active in establishing national bodies that respond to alleged cases of scientific misconduct. Denmark established the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty in 1992. In 1994 the Research Council of Norway appointed a national committee, and during the same year Finland established a decentralized system under which the Finnish National Research Ethics Committee serves as an appellate body for research integrity and ethics. Swedish Medical Research Council was established in 1997 and United Kingdom founded UK Research Integrity Office in 2005.

Many countries have not developed a national body to respond to scientific misconduct despite the increeased awareness of the problem. Although other organizations exist to address problems relating to misuse of animals or humans in experimentation, radiation handling violations, and financial misconduct with research funds, the advent of organizations that address other forms of scientific misconduct is relatively recent.5

The origins of research integrity in Croatia

The promotion of research integrity in Croatia has largely been guided by the Editors of the Croatian Medical Journal (CMJ). The CMJ was launched in 1992 and is an official journal of all Croatian Medical Schools and the World Association of Croatian Physicians. Since 1998, the CMJ has been indexed in Index Medicus/MEDLINE bibliographic database. Since 1999, the CMJ has been included in the Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, as the only medical journal in the history of Croatian medicine so far to enter this bibliographic database.

One of the CMJ priorities is educating readers about responsible conduct of research and promotion of research integrity by publishing standards of acceptable research practices, as well as education of its readers and authors. In addition to assisting authors with presentation, writing, and editing for language and style, the journal enhanced its role by providing a research integrity editor. The CMJ was among the first international biomedical journal with a research integrity editor who is a member of the Editorial Board and whose responsibilities include reviewing questionable research and publication practices detected in manuscripts.6

Editors of the CMJ were also involved in developing the revised Higher Education Act for Croatia. This Act ultimately enabled creation of the CESHE. Vedran Katavic, MD, PhD, the very person who has been the Editor for Research Integrity in CMJ, is now the president of CESHE. Dr. Katavic is also an assistant professor at the Department of Anatomy of the University of Zagreb School of Medicine.

The CESHE has nine members, all appointed by the Croatian Parliament. They have recently created an Ethics Code in which research misconduct has been defined, but the implementation of the Ethics Code and its acceptance by the community is a goal for the future.

The Committee's duties, with the help of the Ethics Code, include promotion of ethical norms and values in science and higher education. The CESHE will work on cases of possible research misconduct and alleged disregard for the ethical norms associated with research. Up to this moment, the CESHE has had six cases, four of which have already been concluded. The CESHE also created guidelines for responsible conduct of all research grant proposals. In time the Committee's role and functionality will, hopefully, mimic that of the US Office of Research Integrity and the National Science Foundation Office of Inspector General in the United States. As for the feedback from the scientific community, Dr. Katavic says that the young researchers welcome such a body, while the seniors have mixed feelings. In the near future, the CESHE plans to establish a web site, increase visibility and promote its activities.

The long-awaited governmental instrument for handling the research misconduct is now present in Croatia. As said earlier, good science requires reliable data; this Committee should help Croatian scientists to deliver just that.

References

1. Chalmers, I. (2006). Role of systematic reviews in detecting plagiarism: case of Asim Kurjak. British Medical Journal, 333, 594-6.
2. Claxton, L.D. (2005). Scientific authorship. Part 1. A window into scientific fraud? Mutation Research, 589, 17-30.
3. Rossner, M. & Yamada, K.M. (2004). What's in a picture? The temptation of image manipulation. Journal of Cell Biology, 166, 11-5.
4. US Office for research integrity. (2007). Homepage: http://ori.dhhs.gov/about/history.shtml. Accessed February 16, 2007.
5. The Council of Science Editors. (2007). http://www.councilscienceeditors.org/editorial_policies/whitepaper/3-2_international.cfm#footnote. Accessed February 16, 2007.
6. Petrovecki M, Scheetz MD. (2001). Croatian Medical Journal introduces culture, control, and the study of research integrity. Croatian Medical Journal, 42, 7-13.

CESHE (OEZVO) site: http://www.azvo.hr/oezvo

Formatted for CROWN by Marko Pulji
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