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Importance Institutions and journals strive to promote and protect the integrity of the research record, and both groups are equally committed to ensuring the reliability of all published data.
Observations Three US universities coordinated a series of virtual meetings from June 2021 to March 2022 for a working group composed of senior, experienced US research integrity officers (RIOs), journal editors, and publishing staff who are familiar with managing issues of research integrity and publication ethics. The goal of the working group was to improve the collaboration and transparency between institutions and journals to ensure that research misconduct and publication ethics are managed properly and efficiently. Recommendations address the following: identifying proper contacts at institutions and journals, specifying information to share between institutions and journals, correcting the research record, reconsideration of some fundamental research misconduct concepts, and journal policy changes. The working group identified 3 key recommendations to be adopted and implemented to change the status quo for better collaboration between institutions and journals: (1) reconsideration and broadening of the interpretation by institutions of the need-to-know criteria in federal regulations (ie, confidential or sensitive information and data are not disclosed unless there is a need for an individual to know the facts to perform specific jobs or functions), (2) uncoupling the evaluation of the accuracy and validity of research data from the determination of culpability and intent of the individuals involved, and (3) initiating a widespread change for the policies of journals and publishers regarding the timing and appropriateness for contacting institutions, either before or concurrently under certain conditions, when contacting the authors.
Conclusions and Relevance The working group recommends specific changes to the status quo to enable effective communication between institutions and journals. Using confidentiality clauses and agreements to impede sharing does not benefit the scientific community nor the integrity of the research record. However, a careful and informed framework for improving communications and sharing information between institutions and journals can foster better working relationships, trust, transparency, and most importantly, faster resolution to data integrity issues, especially in published literature.
Garfinkel S: Recommendations From a Working Group of Institutional Research Integrity Officers and Journal Editors and Publishers. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(6):e2320796. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.20796Alam S Baskin P, et al. Enhancing Partnerships of Institutions and Journals to Address Concerns About Research Misconduct