Themes

European Network of Research Ethics and Research Integrity (ENERI)

What is this about?

Funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, ENERI is a network interlinking the previously somewhat separate communities of research ethics (RE) and research integrity (RI) experts (1). ENERI has developed a platform to initiate mutual learning processes and support exchanges of experiences, a platform supporting four types of actions has been developed:

  • sharing experiences: communication and exchange
  • improving competence: training and capacity building
  • ensuring awareness: indicators of effectiveness and certification
  • enhancing interaction: harmonization and synergies

Why is this important?

Although scientific and technological progress generally improves our quality of life, it also raises ethical challenges. With increasing frequency, research projects not only have the potential to yield enormous benefits, but also entail substantial risks. Assessing whether such risks are justifiable is a pressing concern within the scientific community. The reliability and credibility of science not only depends on excellence and productivity, but also on adherence to high ethical standards.

Fostering ethical expertise is crucial to regain public confidence in science. ENERI seeks to strengthen integrity and ethics in science by building an integrated network of RE and RI experts. RE and RI are two sides of the same coin, namely the responsible and ethical conduct of research. While RE addresses the application of ethical principles to the different fields of study, RI refers to conducting studies in accordance with pertinent legal and professional frameworks. Hence, RE and RI jointly form the normative foundation excellent science is based on.

For whom is this important?

Ethics committee members, Research institutions, Policy makers, Universities, Funders, Research Integrity Officers

What are the best practices?

Drawing on existing networks like the European Network of Research Ethics Committees (EUREC)(2) and the European Network of Research Integrity Offices (ENRIO) (3), ENERI has established an operable platform connecting RE and RI experts. The platform complements The Embassy by focusing mainly on interlinking experts and institutional representatives, whereas The Embassy addresses the entire community of researchers.

In order to facilitate the building of a vibrant community, ENERI has created an expert database (4) that, along with the ENERI Handbook(5), forms the main building block of the network. While the database simplifies building strong network ties among community members, the handbook serves as a basis for discussing novel challenges and disseminating best practices. In contrast to most other manuals, the ENERI handbook has been construed as a living document seeking to constantly evolve by incorporating network members' expertise. As the database seeks to facilitate network growth, the handbook aims to expand the stock of expert knowledge.

Both the database and the handbook not only transcend the boundary between RE and RI, but also bridge divides between different academic disciplines. Whereas ethical review relies on an elaborate infrastructure in the medical sciences in most countries, similar infrastructures are often still lacking in other disciplines. ENERI is based on the premise that research ethics and integrity concern all academic disciplines, including the humanities and social sciences. Many of the challenges researchers in various disciplines typically face as well as examples of good practice are outlined in the handbook.

Other information

ENERI is a pan-European network receiving funding receiving funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 710184

References

References

  1. European Network of Research Ethics and Research Integrity. Available at: http://eneri.eu/. Accessed June 2019.
  2. European Network of Research Ethics Committes (EUREC). Available at: www.eurecnet.org Accessed June 2019.
  3. European Network of Research Integrity Offices (ENRIO). Available at: www.enrio.eu Accessed June 2019.
  4. European Network of Research Ethics and Research Integrity. Expert Database. Available at: http://eneri.eu/expert-database/
  5. European Network of Research Ethics and Research Integrity. Research Ethics and Research Integrity Manual. Available at: http://eneri.eu/reri-manual/ Accessed June 2019.