So what might a Science Integrity Charter look like?
CPSU's proposed Science Integrity Charter appears below. This proposed charter was devised in collaboration with key delegates and workplace leaders from a range of agencies including CSIRO, AIMS, ANSTO, BOM, DIISRTE, GBRMPA, DAFF, AAD and Geoscience Australia.
What do you think of the proposed charter? Join the debate by posting a comment below.
Science Integrity Charter for the Federal Public Sector (proposal by CPSU)
Science, innovation and research are fundamental to the economic, environmental and social needs and aspirations of the Australian community. The Federal public sector is trusted to discover, apply and communicate science in a frank and fearless manner, without political or commercial interference.
Science integrity ensures that the best research outcomes are achieved and that scientific advice is independent and verifiable. The Minister and the APSC agree to the following guiding principles of science integrity that apply to Federal public sector institutions and staff involved in science, research and innovation.
1. Open communication and dissemination of scientific work
The default principle for public sector institutions is an open approach to the communication and dissemination of science, research and policy findings. Exceptions only apply where there are clearly demonstrable reasons to take a more constrained approach, for example to manage intellectual property for public benefit. Organisational policies and procedures must reflect this principle.
2. Encouragement of debate of science issues
Internal debate is essential to the open exchange of knowledge and ideas in the public sector. Staff must be encouraged, through agreed mechanisms, to debate science, research and policy, in order to improve outcomes and decision making. A shared responsibility exists with Government to encourage the external debate of science issues of public interest, ensuring knowledge and expertise is readily accessible to the community.
3. Contestability of science issues
Science in the public sector must continue to be tested rigorously and transparently, particularly through peer review and recognised consensus mechanisms. Public comment should always reflect science that has been tested, whilst acknowledging divergence and opportunities for further research. Staff should not make public comment beyond their area/s of expertise. Issues of public interest are contestable, with community inputs being critical to research/policy directions and outcomes.
4. Independence of public sector institutions and their staff
Public sector institutions must promote scientific independence in underpinning all research and policy formulation. Staff involved in science, research or innovation must not be subject to improper interference in the conduct of their work. Organisations shall have significant penalties in place for relevant stakeholders or staff who seek to undermine scientific independence. When making public comment, organisations and staff must provide scientific information and advice independent from political, commercial or other vested interests.
5. Effective collaboration
The community trusts public sector institutions to operate efficiently and maximise outcomes for public benefit. Genuine collaboration within and between institutions is most effective at the level of the researcher and/or policy formulator. It brings together science ideas with outcomes far exceeding transaction costs. Organisations must reflect this principle by enhancing trust and responsibilities in researchers/policy formulators and simplifying processes which discourage collaboration.