AIRC values Research Integrity

The Milano Attorney (in italian Procura) has recently sent to the Court a request to dismiss an investigation concerning 9 scientists, accused of having manipulated some images included in scientific publications they had authored. According to the Attorney’s document, the purported aim of the manipulations was to better support the scientific conclusions of the articles and to strenghten the scientist’s grant applications in which such publications were listed. The reason for the dismissal request is that for the Italian law such manipulation is not considered a crime; however the Attorney technical advisors maintain that some images have indeed been manipulated.

On these premises an organization named Patto Trasversale per la Scienza has voiced some questions to AIRC whose answer is as follows:

  1. AIRC has asked in writing three questions to the investigated scientists: a) how they have abided to the scientific integrity police (European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity) that all scientists funded by AIRC have to sign; b) whether the Institution where they work (or worked when the publications were produced) have investigated the purported allegations of scientific misconduct; c) which (if any) is their rebuttal to the conclusions of the Attorney technical advisors.
  2. All applications submitted to AIRC are evaluated and ranked according to the international standard of peer review. To do this evaluation work AIRC has a number of more than 600 international reviewers and a study section (Comitato Tecnico Scientifico, CTS) of Italian scientists with different expertise in different aspects of research in oncology. They are selected based on their expertise and operate within a rotating system. The Investigator Grants applications are evaluated by at least two international reviewers and one CTS member and ultimately discussed in a plenary session. The Start Up Grants, My First AIRC Grants and Multi-Unit Grants applications are evaluated by study sections composed entirely of international reviewers. Project are assigned to reviewers based on specific expertise and absence of conflict of interest (here our rules). Every reviewer must provide a written comment and a score ranging from 1(outstanding) to 5 (inadequate). The ranking emerges from the sum or the mean value of the scores. Only projects with a very positive evaluation by all reviewers are considered fundable. All projects funded by AIRC have evaluations in itinere and of the final report as well.
  3. AIRC Advisory Board (in italian Commissione Consultiva per la Ricerca) is an advisory body that has no role whatsoever in the evaluation nor in the selection of the projects to be funded.
  4. Points 2) e 3) are detailed and available in the AIRC website.