Friday, 30 October 2015

Preventing Fraudulent Singapore Research

Audit Singapore Research to Prevent Fraud    
Need to battle Singapore Universities Research Fraud

The recent opening of the S$450m Fusionopolis Two complex provides more opportunities for research and startup collaboration between the private and public sectors. At its Opening Ceremony, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong envisioned a network of Singapore enterprises and people who "are never satisfied with the world as it is and constantly strive to improve, and are forever hungry and bold."  PM Lee said that what is needed to realise the vision to make the latest Singapore's Research & Development (R&D) and innovation hub work are "ideas, initiative and a strong network of enterprises and institutions, driven by the spirit of research and entrepreneurship"

To his list, I would add un-impeachable levels of integrity and exceptional authenticity as well as honesty.

As the bulk of Singapore R&D is government-funded, it is incumbent on public research funding bodies such as A*Star and the Singapore Research Foundation, as well as Government Ministries and Statutory Boards, among others, to have concrete measures to audit research claims and publications of prospective public research fund recipients, who are mostly University Professors and Research Fellows. No research audit measures for research claims authentication and genuine authorships of research papers are presently deployed.

As research grants using public funds grow, the need to exercise for due diligence to root out and prevent fraudulent research practices become more urgent and imperative.

Promoting honest research means weeding out fraudulent researchers with multiple-cloned research papers. The multiplication of research papers University Professors and Research Fellows is not obvious from a simple listing of publications, since the same paper could appear with different titles. Some have multiplied a single paper more than five times, and over a few years.  

Government Research Funding bodies can start with current recipients of public research funds, which are channeled mostly to local Universities. Research fund recipients should submit copies of all their past research papers. Funds should be granted only to actual research investigators, and not to their supervisors or managers to prevent opportunities for 'gift' authorships. This is where supervisors and managers are often included as research paper 'authors' when they did not contribute significantly or at all.

Public research grant providers should monitor the number of research groups of which recipients have claimed membership. As research is time-consuming, time-intensive and knowledge-driven, it is important to limit research group membership to no more than three or, at most, four.

Fewer research group memberships are preferred for diverse research focus to ensure a more equitable spread of research funds, as well as prevent supervisors and managers from dominating research for fraudulent purposes.

Singapore research excellence must embrace honest research with a high level of conscious integrity by actively weeding out fraudulent researchers and their managers.

Research publication listings must be audited. A new culture that emphasises the more meaningful research impact of patents, inventions and discoveries would also prevent research fraud.

Researchers should also demonstrate the continuous relevance and currency of their expert knowledge through regular high-level consulting assignments with industry and social organisations.





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