Promoting research integrity in Africa: an African voice of concern on research misconduct and the way forward

Dev World Bioeth. 2014 Dec;14(3):158-66. doi: 10.1111/dewb.12024. Epub 2013 Apr 17.


African researchers and their collaborators have been making significant contributions to useful research findings and discoveries in Africa. Despite evidence of scientific misconduct even in heavily regulated research environments, there is little documented information that supports prevalence of research misconduct in Africa. Available literature on research misconduct has focused on the developed world, where credible research integrity systems are already in place. Public attention to research misconduct has lately increased, calling for attention to weaknesses in current research policies and regulatory frameworks. Africa needs policies, structural and governance systems that promote responsible conduct of research. To begin to offset this relative lack of documented evidence of research misconduct, contributors working in various research institutions from nine African countries agreed to share their experiences to highlight problems and explore the need to identify strategies to promote research integrity in the African continent. The experiences shared include anecdotal but reliable accounts of previously undocumented research misconduct, including some 'normal misbehavior' of frontline staff in those countries. Two broad approaches to foster greater research integrity are proposed including promotion of institutional and individual capacity building to instil a culture of responsible research conduct in existing and upcoming research scientist and developing deterrent and corrective policies to minimize research misconduct and other questionable research practices. By sharing these experiences and through the strategies proposed, the authors hope to limit the level of research misconduct and promote research integrity in Africa.

Keywords: Africa; ethics review committees; research ethics; scientific research misconduct.

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Ethics, Research*
  • Humans
  • Research Personnel / ethics*
  • Scientific Misconduct* / ethics