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Oxford research integrity training tackles ‘publish or perish’ culture

 Image: Grace Gay for Research Professional News

Arma 2024: Institution’s training courses aim to align research careers with “what’s good for research”

University of Oxford training courses on research integrity aim to push back against pressures meaning “what’s good for research is not aligned with what’s good for research careers”.

Speaking in a session at the Association of Research Managers and Administrators’ annual conference in Brighton on 18 June, Mónica Palmero Fernández, a research practice coordinator at Oxford, said: “We have developed a series of online courses for all researchers at all levels in the university.”

Oxford is one of many institutions to have developed training for staff on research integrity. Training is led by experts across the university, including researchers and research support staff, giving recommendations and aiming to raise awareness of better research practices, Palmero Fernández said.

Wider programme

Explaining why the university developed these courses, she said: “What’s good for research is not aligned with what’s good for research careers.” This misalignment contributes to a “publish or perish culture” that incentivises self-interest, speed to publish and ownership.

“We need to support researchers to conduct research ethically and with integrity to enhance the robustness of the research and to be more transparent,” continued Palmero Fernández, adding that the training courses were just the first step in doing this.

“We are also developing complementary policies, as well as initiatives to better integrate research and expertise across the university,” she said. Training alone cannot significantly shift research culture; it “must be part of a wider programme”.

The courses were developed collaboratively with different groups across the university. Management gave feedback at every stage, which helped get senior leadership on board, said Palmero Fernández. The training is non-mandatory and is a resource that staff can return to, she continued.

In line with the values of openness, the courses are freely available to all staff and students, she said, adding: “We are hopefully going to share them with the rest of the higher education community in future.”