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[ RESEARCH INTEGRITY ] June 15, 2023

Are authors responsible for research integrity?

As research integrity concerns rise and public trust in science wanes, researchers are under more pressure than ever to move faster and publish more. As the scholarly publishing community scrambles for solutions, should authors be the ones we turn to for answers?

It’s time to uphold better integrity. Who bears the responsibility?

A common theme throughout the SSP Annual Meeting last week was the fight for high-quality science and rebuilding public confidence in research.

On one hand, it seems reasonable to assume that the individuals making scientific discoveries should be the ones to ensure that they are sound and accurate. Yet, at the core of this debate lies a vital question: how can authors fulfil these responsibilities without the necessary tools and a supportive environment? Let’s take a moment to consider both perspectives.


 As the primary conductors of research, authors have an obligation to publish accurate results and follow ethical research practices.

The first spark of curiosity leads every scholar down an exciting path of discovery. From that first moment of inspiration, authors navigate each phase of the research lifecycle, becoming torchbearers of their ideas. 

Many believe that scientists play the biggest role in promoting integrity. Since academics hold such a deep connection to their work, it is safe to assume that they need to make sure that their findings are honest each step of the way, ensuring that their data is collected and reported fairly, steering clear of predatory paper mills, and resisting the urge to engage in rogue practices like citation manipulation. These values of transparency and objectivity are what the entire academic enterprise relies on, and authors have a duty to safeguard them.

 Authors should take integrity into their own hands for the sake of their reputation and their institution.

Almost two decades since the groundbreaking 2005 article, Why Most Published Research Findings are False”, replicating scholarly findings remains a challenge. What’s more, nowadays, it seems that news of research fraud and misconduct, errors, and fake or low-quality results are hitting the headlines every few weeks. 

With these reports come embarrassing media coverage and reputational ruin for both the authors, institutions, publishers, and funding agencies involved. While organizations have opportunities to reflect, investigate, and rebuild after these incidents, for many authors a small error or lapse in judgement can spell the end of their professional career.


Should the weight of rebuilding integrity truly fall on the world’s learners?

Authors are the architects of their ideas, but they also need support to make sure these findings meet industry standards so that they can truly find their way into the future. 

Discover alternative opinions to this debate and learn why many believe we may be in need of some technological and cultural shifts to build a more nurturing landscape for researchers.


The “publish or perish” culture is holding academics back from promoting integrity.

For decades, the scholarly publishing community has looked to journal publishing as the gold standard, dismissing a world of early-stage research. This pressure has created limited space in prestigious publication outlets, increasing competition and encouraging scientists to cut corners for the drive to see their name in print. What’s more, within this culture there is a lack of incentive for publishing negative results, despite the great value this research can bring to the scientific community. This cultural mindset may even pressure researchers to manipulate their findings and skew data in favor of their hypotheses.

Once we move past the pressure to publish, we can create an environment more conducive to effective learning, better discoveries, and more ethical research practices. This means swimming upstream and understanding the value of early results, failed experiments, and non-traditional forms of knowledge sharing like videos, posters, and abstracts.


We can’t ask authors to uphold better research integrity unless we give them the infrastructure to do so.

In this competitive landscape, researchers are also facing pressure from their own institutions and funding bodies to publish their findings quickly to meet deadlines or secure grants. Yet, despite all the new technologies available to us, the scholarly publishing community is sometimes still hesitant to adapt to new disruptive digital tools and innovate for the better, meaning authors are often not given the infrastructure  needed to detect mistakes in their rush to disseminate ideas. Without the appropriate technology, can we truly expect researchers to leave their mark on the world without compromising integrity?

After all, isn’t that the point of peer review? To help researchers make sure that their work is scientifically sound before they share it? But, in fact, this age-old validation process is becoming more lengthy and error-prone with the number of volunteers dropping and critics of this strained system increasing. With all of these factors at play, the need for smarter and faster solutions to bolster integrity for authors becomes increasingly evident.

A collective effort

While there are valid points to both arguments in this debate, ultimately it’s clear that better research integrity and accelerating scientific breakthroughs requires widespread collaboration across the academic community. It’s critical for authors to be proactive, independent, and explore different ways to ensure the validity of their findings. At the same time, societies and publishers have a duty to provide researchers with the right infrastructure so that they can publish their work with the highest levels of confidence.

We recognize that the responsibility of research integrity is shared amongst all academic stakeholders, and we all need to invest in innovative approaches and bold ideas in order to build a brighter future. That’s why we offer solutions for both authors and publishers, so that researchers can take the reins while enjoying the protective support of their institutions. 

Our author Submission Checks are already helping researchers take control of their submissions. Authors simply upload their documents, run their work through our automated preflights service, and watch their acceptance rates climb. This AI-driven service analyzes citations, validates industry guidelines, and scans papers at scale. Purchase our Submission Checks to add an extra layer of integrity to your work before peer review, avoid rejections, and accelerate the possibilities of your work today.

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