There is an old story about a king who holds a contest to determine his successor. The contest involves each child in the court getting a seed, and whoever grows the tallest plant from that seed would be the winner. When the day came to show the plants, a lone girl is embarrassed to see all the other children have colorful and tall plants, while hers is still a simple seed. The girl is shocked when the king declares her to be the winner since all the seeds were boiled and none of them could grow into a plant.
While an old story, the lessons about honesty haven’t changed. When it comes to scientific integrity, NIH has long-standing policies and processes in place to ensure the science we fund and conduct is managed, communicated, and used in ways that preserve its accuracy and objectivity. Importantly, these policies also help protect research results from suppression, manipulation, and inappropriate influence.
In 2022, we revised the compendium document NIH Policies and Procedures for Promoting Scientific Integrity to meet the expectations set forth in President Biden’s Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking. The updated compendium considers emerging and cross-cutting themes that have arisen since the document’s original publication in 2012.
In addition to updating the compendium, NIH has also developed the Draft Scientific Integrity Policy of the National Institutes of Health (Draft NIH Scientific Integrity Policy) to not only satisfy the expectations of the President’s memo, but also to incorporate the recommendations contained in the National Science and Technology Council’s Protecting the Integrity of Government Science report. The Draft NIH Scientific Integrity Policy unambiguously reiterates NIH’s commitment to scientific integrity and also aligns with the recently released Draft Scientific Integrity Policy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (more info at the HHS Scientific Integrity website).
Some of the highlights of the new Draft NIH Scientific Integrity Policy include:
- Articulating a definition of scientific integrity that is shared across the United States Government;
- Establishing the new positions of NIH Chief Scientist and NIH Scientific Integrity Official and defining the roles and responsibilities of these positions; and
- Protecting against inappropriate political interference.
Since the public is an equal partner in the research NIH conducts and funds, we want to hear your thoughts on the Draft NIH Scientific Integrity Policy. Comments will be accepted on the Draft NIH Scientific Integrity Policy until November 9, 2023. Comments must be provided using the online form that can be found at: https://osp.od.nih.gov/comment-form-draft-scientific-integrity-policy-for-the-national-institutes-of-health/.
We believe the Draft NIH Scientific Integrity Policy clearly shows the value we place on scientific integrity. With the feedback we receive, we can ensure that, together, the seeds of scientific integrity remain strongly rooted and thrive in the future.