Research Integrity

Cochrane is committed to independence, transparency, and integrity in healthcare research. The Research Integrity Team works to support and strengthen this commitment through research, policy development and implementation, advocacy and community outreach. The Research Integrity Team comprises of the Senior Research Integrity Editor, Lisa Bero, and Research Integrity Editor, Stephanie Boughton.

Research

Building on Cochrane’s strong history of conducting meta-research to detect research integrity problems, the Research Integrity Editors coordinate Cochrane’s Research Integrity Agenda which brings together and prioritizes research projects across the Cochrane Community related to research integrity.

Working with interested researchers from across Cochrane’s global community, the Research Integrity Editors have identified priority research projects with relevance for Cochrane and is currently seeking funding for them.

The following projects are currently on Cochrane’s Research Integrity Agenda and are divided into three main areas:

Projects related to research integrity of primary research (i.e. studies that may be included in systematic reviews)

  • Detecting issues of validity, reliability, analysis and robustness in publications/data
    • Qualitative study interviewing experts in pre- or post-publication research integrity on how they identify potentially problematic studies and what they think should be included in an ‘early warning’ tool to assist their identification and investigation (status: in progress)
    • Identification of study characteristics associated with “problematic” trials (status: collaborators on grant proposal)
    • Development and testing of automated systems to detect the above (status: collaborators on grant proposal)
    • Development of a tool to detect fabricated studies in RCTs (status: collaborators on grant proposal)
  • Cross-sectional study of preprints and final journal publications from COVID-19 studies: discrepancies in results reporting and spin in interpretation (status: published BMJ Open 2021;11:e051821)

We have also published an editorial on the subject of dealing with problematic studies in systematic reviews - Boughton  SL, Wilkinson  J, Bero  L. When beauty is but skin deep: dealing with problematic studies in systematic reviews. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2021, Issue 6. Art. No.: ED000152. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.ED000152

Lisa has written a World View in Nature on the topic of working together to deal with problematic studies – ‘Stamp out fake clinical data by working together’.

Lisa was also interviewed in the Medical Minefield podcast ‘Can we really trust medical research’ on this topic.

Projects related to research integrity of systematic reviews

  • Bias in selection of data for meta-analysis
  • Evaluating protocols/adherence to protocols
  • Evaluating restricting reviews to prospectively registered trials/studies with protocols/studies with analysis plan
  • Evaluating impact of inclusion of preprints

Projects related to research integrity of research behaviours

  • Method for addressing bias related to non-financial interests
  • Assessing impact of stricter CoI policy

The Research Integrity Agenda is evolving and constantly revised and we are eager for input into it.

If you are interested in collaborating on any of the projects listed above, have suggestions for other relevant research projects, or are a member of the Cochrane community working on a project relevant to research integrity, we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch at researchintegrity@cochrane.org.

Advocacy

Members of the Research Integrity Team are involved in several external projects and regularly attend events related to research integrity.

We are stakeholders/participants in the following projects:

Upcoming events:

Past events:

 

For further information on Cochrane’s advocacy for transparency and integrity in research see here.