We see a burst of new life out of doors. It is fascinating. You may have a similar feeling at a conference listening to all new initiatives and insights. Here, you may read about the inspiring annual conference of the European Association of Research Managers and Administrators (EARMA) and a meeting of the Netherlands Research Integrity Network (NRIN).
The conference in Brussels was attended by 750 people from all over the world. We got an outlook on the new EU Framework Programme 9, which will start in 2021. The ratio behind it is ‘no revolution, but evolution’ in comparison with the running programme Horizon 2020. The changes are, however, of interest. One, the budget will increase. Some suggest even a doubling. One hundred percent is probably too optimistic, but we will see a substantial increase of the budget. Two, the impact of projects will be a key criterion for granting, besides the excellence of the research, or innovation. The impact should, however, not be seen from a point of view of economics only. The Commission intends to strive at a balance between social challenges, economics, and environment. The pillar ‘innovation’ will, therefore, be less pronounced, and smaller, compared to the pillars ‘excellence’ and ‘societal challenges’ respectively. Three, granting will be more directed on clusters of projects rather than single projects to achieve missions of the programme. Four, health and resilience/inclusiveness become leading themes. Five, Open Science will be stimulated and Open Data becomes mandatory. Finally, control of the granted projects might shift from accountancy to the deliverables introducing lump sum funding. The Commission has to decide about the introduction of lump sum still. Anyway, you may notice that the decisions regarding FP9 are still pending. In addition, these will strongly depend on the elections of the new European parliament in 2019!
Speed dating was a new, fascinating, type of session at the conference. A presenter had 10 minutes to explain and discuss a topic within a small group. DRS also organised a speed dating session entitled ‘views on excellent research support’. The topic was presented in five, subsequent, groups. A group consisted of, on average, five people. The topic was presented considering research as a cyclic process. Each organisation, e.g. a group, or whole institution, may go through a cycle from state-of-the-art knowledge to excellent results (see red circle on top in the hand-out). Funding and research integrity, respectively, are themselves a circle (see right hand circle and left hand circle, respectively, in the handout). Potential providers of support are indicated along the circles. We indicated the support of consultants in blue where we consider a consultant as pivotal in supporting research.
The meeting was attended by about 90 people. It is an enthusiastic and inspiring community, probably due to the abundance of relatively young people. This abundance may explain as well the lack of experience popping up frequently at the meeting. NRIN may benefit from the participation of more, excellent, senior scientists.
Participants had a background in various branches of research. Some criticised the dominance of biomedical research in defining research integrity. The criticism focussed on the use of the term ‘reproducible research’, which was exclusively attributed to medical research. It triggered a discussion about the common basis of all branches with respect to research integrity. DRS defended the opinion that all research, science, needs to be reproducible irrespectively the area of interest. Anyway, the discussion indicated that the field of research integrity is in its’ infancy still lacking a common theory. Should we, for example, distinguish between ‘integrity’ and ‘responsible research’ as suggested by a participant? Integrity would be confined to the level of, individual, scientists whereas responsible research would be the proper term at the level of institutions. It makes sense.