US: Training for scholarly integrity

At the first global meeting on graduate education to focus on research ethics, higher education leaders agreed to a set of statements and action items on integrating training in scholarly integrity into graduate education. Representatives from the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, China, Hong Kong and Botswana met in Florence in September to initiate discussion on the need to strengthen scholarly integrity because of the growing globalisation of graduate education and research.

This was the second annual Strategic Leaders Global Summit sponsored by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS). Last year's meeting in Banff in Canada resulted in the 'Banff Principles' to broadly guide international collaboration in graduate education; this year's summit focused on 'best practices' specific to promoting scholarly integrity.

The consensus points reached were:

* Scholarly integrity is a core value of all universities and requires systematic attention.
* Challenges to scholarly integrity are universal, diverse and evolving.
* Issues of scholarly integrity cut across institutional, inter-cultural and international contexts.

Leaders also agreed that three items were needed: a common frame of reference addressing the continuum of educational and training objectives from scholarly integrity to compliance; leadership at all levels to prepare future scholars, researchers, and professionals to demonstrate integrity in all aspects of their careers and to meet powerful pressures that undermine integrity, and third, exchange of best practices and resources (including codes of conduct, regulatory frameworks, curricular materials, and instruments for assessment and evaluation).

Participants also agreed on five specific action items that organisations, including universities, should consider as they enhance and pursue international collaborations:

* Build scholarly integrity into existing structures that prepare future faculty and future career professionals.
* Develop and maintain an open source, online website for facilitating resource and best practice exchange.
* Utilise international joint degree, dual degree, and other collaborative structures for integrating educational activities to advance scholarly integrity.
* Identify mechanisms that explicitly address universal and global issues in scholarly integrity as well as ethical issues that may arise from the mobility of scholars (including priority areas of digital publishing and plagiarism in an international environment).
* Develop collaborative mechanisms for addressing plagiarism in an international context.

The council has taken leadership both in studying international graduate education issues and in promoting scholarly integrity in graduate education, as part of its responsible conduct of research initiatives.

The Council of Graduate Schools has more than 500 institutions of higher education in the US and Canada among its membership. CGS member institutions award 94% of the doctoral degrees and 80% of the master's degrees in the US. The council's 2008 annual meeting will be held in Washington 3-6 December. The theme, for the first time, is the globalisation of graduate education. A preliminary programme is available at www.cgsnet.org

* Stuart Heiser is Manager of Government Relations and External Affairs at the Council of Graduate Schools.