Lobby UK M.Ps to create a new Research Ombudsman

Discussion in 'Advocacy Projects and Campaigns' started by Paul Watton, Feb 27, 2018.

  1. Paul Watton

    Paul Watton Established Member (Voting Rights)

    This is for U.K. residents only.

    The PACE trial scandal and the failings of both QMUL and Bristol Uni, have exposed a gap in UK research governance arrangements which unscrupulous researchers and their sponsoring Universities have exploited.

    In October 2017, the Commons Science & Technology Select Committee inquiry into research integrity heard evidence from (among others) Prof. Dorothy Bishop of Oxford Uni.

    You can watch what she said during the oral evidence session here: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/9e175001-a7d9-41a3-b0ce-f2de5409b99d?in=09:48:20

    You can learn more about the inquiry here: https://www.parliament.uk/business/...ies/parliament-2017/research-integrity-17-19/

    The idea of creating a Research Ombudsman seems to me to be an appropriate response to the problem and I would like to think that we might get bhind it by writing to /Emailing our M.Ps on the subject.

    I have therefore prepared a sample letter here: https://app.box.com/s/3iskqg36p12u4404f7cuv1xdpujaypri
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  2. Trish

    Trish Moderator Staff Member

    It will depend so much on who they appoint, what their remit is, and who ends up controlling it. It could go horribly wrong - look at how Wessely managed to get a stranglehold on the SMC, and how the BPS lot managed to set the ME agenda on Cochrane and NICE. Or am I being too cynical?
  3. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Indigophoton, Louie41, Hoopoe and 2 others like this.
  4. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    It is kind of ridiculous that it's reasonable to be so cynical about UK medical research as to fear that more oversight will make things worse.
    Barry, Indigophoton, Louie41 and 5 others like this.
  5. Paul Watton

    Paul Watton Established Member (Voting Rights)

    In the circumstances, your reaction is perfectly understandable, but I do think that you're being overly cynical.

    Perhaps it would be better to think of such an Ombudsman in terms of an Ombudsman service or Ombudsman's Office - i.e. a number of people administering a process of oversight, much like the Information Commissioner's Office does, with one figurehead in overall control.
    The choice of the person at the top is obviously quite important, but not the only factor in delivering an effective service.
    There would also be an appeals process (to a first tier tribunal court), much like we have seen used in the Mathees FOIA case.

    I'm therefore confident that a Research Ombudsman service would deliver the kind of governance that that is currently absent.

    Please promote this idea in whatever ways you can think of. Thanks.
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  6. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    I wish I could agree with you, but SW is an incredibly influential individual, and I've no doubt he achieves this through deeply insidious networking - a network he has doubtless nurtured and cultivated over a lifetime. He is not someone to underestimate.

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