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Research Integrity training should be mandatory for all postgraduate students say 62% of Indian researchers in first national survey

Springer Nature, along with the National Academy of Sciences and the Council Of Scientific and Industrial Research – National Physical Laboratory releases first national survey aimed to understand attitudes towards research integrity in India

New Delhi, 13th June 2024

The results of the first national survey to investigate research integrity in India, a collaboration between National Academy of Sciences, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) – National Physical Laboratory and publisher Springer Nature, indicate broad support for mandatory in-person research integrity training across researcher demographics. The survey found that whilst 53% of respondents stated that their institution offered research integrity related training, 87% felt that research integrity training provided by their institution is effective, and 62% support mandatory training on research integrity for postgraduate students and early career researchers. 

Key findings from the survey include: 

  • When asked to describe Research Integrity, including practices related to it, 85% of the responses focused on positive research traits, the most popular being honesty, ethical, trustworthy, and accurate. This is consistent with the survey findings from the UK and the USA.
  • 53% of respondents stated that their institution offered research integrity related training, though only 2 out of 3 researchers indicated that their integrity training was mandatory. Further, 70% of post graduate students stated that they have mandatory research integrity training, while only 30% undergraduate students take integrity trainings.
  • Current training in India has greater focus on foundational elements such as importance of research integrity, authorship guidance, defining research integrity and ethics approval. This contrasts with data related trainings being sought by researchers in the UK, USA and Australia, which aren’t higher up in priority for Indian researchers.
  • 80% of respondents feel they are able to provide feedback on training materials, but 9% feel that feedback is not reviewed and implemented. 75% of STM researchers feel that training providers in India aren’t given feedback on the quality of research developed.
  • For those who had access to training, 64% of Indian respondents reported that the training was mandatory.Most respondents from India agreed that training at some stage in a researcher’s career should be mandatory. 

Dr. Ed Gerstner, Director, Research Environment Alliances at Springer Nature, commented: “I'm really encouraged by the fact that over half of the respondents in our survey of Indian researchers told us that their institutions provided training in research integrity. Although there is room for institutions to do more, this is no small feat for a country that is the third largest producer of scientific research globally today, behind only China and the US. As a publisher, Springer Nature is committed to accelerating solutions to the world’s urgent challenges by supporting our communities. Research integrity is a prime importance to us and a crucial component to foster a healthier research environment. Our survey findings across Australia, US, UK, India and Japan indicate that researchers everywhere feel that formal training on research integrity will not only help them create a transparent and ethical environment, but will also ensure publishing of more accurate, trustworthy and unbiased work. And it is clear from the results that the Indian research community understands the importance of integrity training and feels that while a lot is being done, much more can and should be done to enhance research output from the country.”

 Respondents from India also indicated that they would like more training on the importance of researcher integrity, authorship, issues around statistics, reproducibility, and ethics approval. Whilst these are important as indicated in the survey findings from the US, UK and Australia, the emphasis in these geographies has been on trainings in management and sharing of research data. 

The Indian survey was conducted between July and October 2023 as part of Springer Nature’s commitment to support good practices internationally by providing insights into research integrity training and needs. Questions were addressed to both institutional management and researchers/faculty members to deliver a baseline review of perceived levels of training in research integrity and good research practices at research institutions, including training in statistics, data management, data sharing and mentorship. 600+ responses, including from most top institutes and universities in India, were received and analysed.

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Denis Campbell | Corporate Affairs | Springer Nature