A school that trains in the fight against scientific fraud

They are sitting face to face, in constant conversation. on the left, the professor-mediator; On the right, the researcher came to explain himself to the fraud charge brought against him, on the grounds that he may have manipulated the data used in the university thesis. What does he say to the mediator? How does the latter interpret what he has been told? And what do attentive witnesses to the exchange think? This dialogue did not take place on an off stage in Avignon, but on 1. happened duringTime Summer School of the Institute for Research and Action on Academic Fraud and Pleasureism (IRAFPA), held in mid-July in Thez, not far from Pau (Pyrénées-Atlantiques).

A special kind of epidemic: of “scientific misconduct”

In a beautifully restored Byrne farm amidst palm trees and blue-pink hydrangeas, 11 “students” – mainly academics, researchers and/or teachers from France, Switzerland, Spain, Germany … – held in two sessions in 7 modules Were able to follow intensive tasks. It includes very educative role-playing games, such as the dialogues mentioned above. Objective ? Gain the skills to be an “integrity consultant”, backing certification. i.e. training as efficient (and humane) as possible in solving problems arising from plagiarism, fraud, falsification of data… in the academic world where cases are on the rise (read box at the end of ‘article’).

It is a particular type of epidemic that is really galloping today, that of “scientific misconduct”. They are exploding, underlined a recent report by the Office of Parliament for the Evaluation of Scientific and Technological Alternatives (OPECAST)., headed by Cedric Villani and whose science and the future Reported on its release in March 2021. With a worrying result: the “reproducibility crisis” of research. More and more often, it happens that a particular team does not manage to achieve the same result as the other, while it “Uses the same data, calculation steps, methods, code and analysis terms”, according to a report from the American Academies in 2019 (1). Will the world be slandered by the scientists in whom citizens have so far placed great faith in advancing knowledge? Will the credibility of some institutions be at risk?

The problem, there is no formal training in France (3), which provides unique skills that help to manage crisis situations following a breach of scientific integrity. However, in some cases there are incredible twists and turns. A real case – like all those studied during summer school – here, named the “snowball of problems”, rises to such a height in chaos that it does not take at least 7 dense pages to figure it out! Several lessons can be drawn from this case concerning the knowledge of the avalanche – hence the ironic title: the need for ethics courses; To curb the arrogance of certain circles; Know the guidelines, especially regarding citations from scientific authors; Do not lose the face of such a weak person; To establish an Academic Social Responsibility (RSA) etc.

Keep in mind the suffering of the victims but also the fate of the fraudsters later

It is an ideological arsenal founded on concrete examples with clear philosophical underpinnings, to fight in a pragmatic way against the “criminal of the Enlightenment”, which Professor Emeritus of the University of Geneva, Michel Bergdas, wanted to teach this year. Two other experts in the field who have helped set up the program in French are Professor Paulo Piccoto, Ombudsman of the University of Coimbatore (Portugal (4)) as well as Professor Marion Popescu at the University of Bucharest, who is active at the highest level. At the political level (5) integrity issues in Romania. It was at the inspiration of an expert in the latter’s art and public communication, that many of the training modules take the form of an “educational theater of honesty” with masks and role-playing games. It is good to understand conflict situations intellectually (6). copy them “Peace the communities in conflict”, as the three organizers have always wanted, this is better. And to encourage taking into account not only the suffering of the victims but the subsequent fate of the fraudsters etc. The mediator/ombudsman/integrity advisor should actually act “With altruism, more precisely tolerance. Without confusing sympathy and empathy”, they explain.

So, what was the purpose of the scenario mentioned at the beginning of this article? After a few moments, teacher-moderator Paulo Pexoto was then able to (less quickly) identify the profile interpreted by the student-actor (in the role of the criminal researcher), who was the “manipulator”. What betrayed him? their way of defending themselves by “posing as a victim of envy or vengeance” coupled with behavior “Aggressive and threatening when the investigator tries to bring him up to the facts”.

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4 Characteristic Profiles: Manipulator, Cheater, Handyman, Cheater

These elements are one of the “4 typical profiles encountered during the last fifteen years of IRAFPA’s work – Manipulator, Cheater, Handyman, Cheater”. Four standard sheets detailing these profiles were given to the participants to guide them in their subsequent fieldwork. Because it is often difficult to exercise in real life. Thus, do not hesitate to manipulate “change their behavior according to the systems in which they operate” and know how to play “Clan Rites [leur] microcosm”, specifies the standard file. Further, in spite of the facts, the evidence, the substantive investigation, which clearly mandates the filing of a serious case of allegation, one may note that some people will never admit their mistakes… others, its The opposite, will choose to face their lack of honesty. to a separate register. so typical cheater “one who plays with standards or codes” Once disclosed, the moderator can simply ask “find him a job elsewhere”. But be careful “If he does not succeed in promising to keep the whole matter confidential, he will seek a solid lawyer” (7), warn our experts.

Apparently no one in the academic world wants this kind of jurisprudence, not just for doing dirty laundry with the family. The rules here and there are really different. For example, what to do with stealing ideas? Condemned in the academic world, advocacy in the legal field proves difficult, because unlike objects or machines, an idea cannot give rise to a patent.

so how do you act when “Victims don’t even know where to turn?” The student calls one of the participants. “We always ask ourselves what could be worse if we don’t take action. In the logic of consequence and not of reason“, explains Michelle Bergdas. The aim is to train mediators capable of considering these difficult and complex situations. “Here we share our models and advance our knowledgeS, she emphasizes. without a teacher”. Certificate in his pocket, the “integrity advisor” fresh out of his summer school is just about to jump into the deep end.

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1. See page 109 note n° 2, Difference between “reproducibility” and “replication”.

2. “10 consequences of fraud and plagiarism”, sheet distributed to the participants of the summer school

3. The OPECAST report makes this “Recommendation n ° 7: Mandatory training in scientific integrity throughout a research career, especially for supervisors and other consulting positions (HDR, post-doc), as some establishments already have informal kindly do it.”

4. The University of Coimbatore will host the “Second International Congress of Research and Action on Academic Integrity” from June 17-19, 2022.

5. Marion Popescu, former chairman of the ethics committee of the University of Bucharest and founder of CARFIA (Center for the Integrity of the Academic Sector), spoke publicly and on several occasions in 2010 on the excesses of her country’s educational system. In protest at the European level, he resigned from the ETINED forum of the Council of Europe (Forum for Ethics, Transparency and Integrity in Education) at the end of 2020, as he was opposed to the appointment. of education, leading according to him “Progressive anemia of educational reforms, especially against lack of integrity”.

6. To read recent group work urgency of academic integrity, EMS ed., Management and Society, 528p., 35 €.

7. “Dialogue with the criminals of knowledge”, Sheet distributed to the participants of the Summer School.

it’s not moral

One of the first modules of the Summer School, based on the work of the Institute for Research and Action on Academic Fraud and Pleasureism (IRAFPA), emphasizes the importance of “Ethics, doctrine, distinction between formal ethics and matters of responsibility”. The first of these 4 dimensions of integrity (the “must know how” of ethics), too broad and general to be effective in the fight against specific misconduct) is discarded. But the other three, each in their own register, help guide action. The sheet given to summer school participants, and of which we take elements here, is how academic actors, an “integrity consultant” must integrate in the context of different philosophies (Jeremy Bentham, Max Weber, Hans Jonas).

Policy in the subject “Person in his profession with his knowledge”, an academic actor here. it’s about a “Professional ethics that is required in some professions” and which allows for “setting up of codes of conduct and monitoring bodies”. deviation can be judged and “fairly accepted by peers”. Be careful though, “Democratic debate and without transparency” [au risque] D’Omerta”.

formal ethics is aimed at decision makers in a given task and “For His Knowledge”. It is a kind of proper highway code that allows formalization of internal rules and regulations. [et d’édicter] Charter. be careful though if “Ethics of Faith” only leads to “Look for the culprit instead of the responsible”.

Responsibility The academic takes into account the social role of the actor. It allows you to anticipate the risks of doing nothing… and encourages the training of useful “Crisis Cells”. Be careful though “The Predictor of Fear for the Human Future” [qui peut] discourage many”.

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