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[ Publishing Workflows ] October 3, 2023

Ethics, trust, and technology in scholarly publishing

Welcome to our new blog series exploring the research community’s perceptions regarding integrity. We’re sharing results from Morressier’s recent Research Integrity Survey, and uncovering how the academic world really feels about recent trends and challenges.

About the survey

Research misconduct is all over the headlines, due to expanding publication rates, and systemic flaws, threatening trust in science. 

We recently conducted a survey to explore sentiments on integrity from scholarly publishing stakeholders including researchers, society staff, editorial staff, and publishers. By understanding priorities and concerns, we can join together to forge impactful solutions. We’ll be sharing these results, and what they tell us about the broader research integrity ecosystem, for the next several months. Dive in to discover insights from the academic community on how technology can bolster research integrity.


Trust and AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) has seen massive growth in recent years, with experts estimating that AI usage has increased 270% since 2015. While we can imagine how much faster scientific ideas can be shared when researchers can recruit the help of automated authors, the idea of a nonhuman first author in academia is leaving many publishers and experts worrying about ownership, accountability, and the whole publishing process. .

Even beyond its use for generating research papers, trust in AI varies among academic stakeholders. Over 80% of survey participants harbor neutrality or skepticism when it comes to the use of AI for research integrity solutions. Dedicated to optimizing experiences for their members, society leaders are embracing more experimentation, with 42.8% expressing confidence in AI to enhance integrity. On the flip side, other academic stakeholders have a more hesitant stance—only 35.7% of publishers embrace AI with open arms, while a large 80% of researchers remain neutral or wary.

With all of these various emotions at play, it’s clear that the current scholarly publishing landscape is complex. AI may have the power to drive us forward into a future of better scholarly content quality and integrity, but is hesitation valid or is it holding us back?


Trust and technology

With rates of fraud surging these days, there’s no centralized ownership for accountability. We need to identify the root cause, and the core stakeholders, in order to find an effective and sustainable solution for it?

Over a quarter of survey participants believe new technologies are responsible  for worrying amounts of misconduct and that they are threatening to increase integrity issues. When we dive deeper into the perspectives of key players, 50% of publishers, followed by 40% of editors, 33.3% of societies, and 26.5% of researchers nod in agreement.

These results are not surprising, given what’s at stake. Emerging technologies can streamline the publishing process, bringing the brightest ideas to the world faster than before, but if these ideas aren’t properly vetted they can cause irreparable damage. The million dollar question remains: is technology our friend or foe?


Why isn't there trust? 

Our biological makeup encourages us to resist trust in order to protect ourselves. A section of the brain—the amygdala releases the hormones for fear, fight, or flight and views change as a threat.

That’s why when a new idea, tool, or strategy is introduced, it’s sometimes easier to resist it.  But how do we decipher between a genuine threat and a missed chance at building knowledge that could propel us forward? The same neurology that once protected us may now be holding us back in our modern society.

Today, technology is relentlessly shaping each industry. Adaptation isn't just a buzzword; it's what we need to survive in this fast-paced and competitive landscape.  Just as we pivoted from the print world to modern digital publishing, the scholarly publishing community now needs to embrace innovation or be left behind.



Our scholarly publishing community needs to create new avenues and pathways through innovation and adaptation. Our journey now hinges on trust and collaboration. Each and every academic stakeholder must be open to the potential efficiencies and cost-savings of technology, while also building deeper partnerships so we can harness new ways of thinking and developing ideas to propel us forward. 

Let’s also not forget the power of trusting in each other and having confidence in collaboration. Partnerships flourish already between authors, reviewers, societies, publishers, and we must add technology companies to the mix. These alliances will help to shape a future with reduced integrity and ethical challenges, dynamic digital workflows, and flexible models.

guide to research integrity