International Integrity Networks: APRI and ARIN
International Integrity Networks: Asia Pacific Research Integrity Network (APRI) and African Research Integrity Network (ARIN)
by Zoë Hammatt
As networks designed to bring together complementary expertise and resources around a common theme, both the Asia Pacific Research Integrity Network (APRI) and the African Research Integrity Network (ARIN) emerged in response to a need for exchanging ideas and information across a geographic region. Like ENRIO, these networks began with a small and dedicated group of individuals whose shared enthusiasm has contributed to a dynamic evolution.
APRI’s Beginnings and Continued Growth
The need for contact with research integrity officials across Asia and the Pacific became apparent at the University of Hawaii in early 2013, when several integrity concerns arose in the context of research projects involving collaborators in Asia. Then Director of the Research Integrity Program at the University of Hawaii, Ms. Zoë Hammatt, obtained support from university officials, including Dr. Ching Yuan Hu and Dr. Brian Taylor, to plan a meeting in partnership with the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI; with then Director, Dr. David Wright).
Responses from institutional officials in Asia and the Pacific was immediate and positive. Those handling research integrity concerns and providing education throughout the region were keen to meet and discuss common issues and solutions. Ms. Hammatt and Dr. Wright convened an informal gathering at the 3rd World Conference on Research Integrity (WCRI) in Montreal in May 2013, which was attended by about 15 individuals from the region. When Ms. Hammatt was appointed Director of the Division of Education and Integrity at the U.S. ORI in 2014, she collaborated with then Director of the Division of Investigative Oversight, Dr. Susan Garfinkel, and obtained approvals to cosponsor a meeting with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in February 2015. ORI and Mr. Eric Mah, then UCSF Research Integrity Officer, invited eleven regional representatives based on their commitment and experience. This enthusiastic Planning Committee formally established the APRI network and planned for a larger meeting the following year.
Ms. Hammatt and Dr. Paul Taylor, APRI Planning Committee member of Melbourne, Australia, then convened a partner symposium on international integrity networks at the 4th WCRI in Rio di Janeiro in May 2015. The symposium featured ENRIO, APRI, Universitas 21, the U.S.-based Association of Research Integrity Officers (ARIO), and the Canadian Secretariat on the Responsible Conduct of Research. This symposium sparked interested in creating integrity networks in other regions, including Africa and Latin America.
ORI partnered again with Mr. Mah and Dr. Marianne Generales to cosponsor the first larger APRI meeting at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in February 2016. About 80 delegates from 15 countries in Asia and the Pacific contributed to panel and networking sessions and roundtable discussions. During the San Diego meeting, delegates from Hong Kong and Taiwan expressed commitment to continuing APRI’s momentum and hosting the next meeting in Asia. Together with the University of Hong Kong (Drs. Mai Har Sham, Frederick Leung and Danny Chan) UCSD (Dr. Michael Kalichman) successfully obtained an ORI conference grant to co-host an APRI meeting in Hong Kong in 2016. 110 delegates came from 19 countries to exchange ideas and forge collaborations across the region.
Four working groups were established in Hong Kong: Mission and Governance; Website; Education and Training; and a Meeting planning group. Professor Ovid Tzeng, Academia Sinica, and Dr. Cheng-Chen Chen, Vice Chancellor of the University System of Taiwan, then collaborated with Dr. Kalichman and the Meeting working group and Planning Committee to host the APRI 2018 meeting in Taipei. 175 delegates came from 20 countries in Asia and the Pacific, North America and Europe. The next APRI meeting will likely occur in the Asia-Pacific region in 2020.
APRI Goals and Membership Criteria
The essential goals of the APRI network, through its working groups and meeting attendees, are to articulate differences and areas of common ground, identify best or recommended practices, and identify opportunities for collaboration. APRI does not currently maintain a formal membership structure or criteria, and those who attend the meetings have comprised its informal members. Coordination of the working groups is a critical next step to formalizing structures and platforms for exchange that remain flexible, nimble and in keeping with the spirit of openness envisaged for APRI.
ARIN’s Beginnings and Continued Growth
The concept of an African Research Integrity Network (ARIN) emerged at the 4th World Conference on Research Integrity (WCRI). Only a small number of WCRI delegates hailed from Africa, a few of whom attended the partner symposium on international integrity networks and expressed interest in forming an African network. Dr. Francis Kombe, who gave a plenary lecture on research integrity in Kenya, along with Dr. Limbanazo Matandika of Malawi and Drs. Lyn Horn, Robert McLaughlin, and Laetus Lategan of South Africa, who also contributed scholarly insights to the WCRI, were keen to communicate with each other and create an African network.
Given funding restrictions, the U.S. ORI could not provide financial support for an ARIN meeting as it had done for the APRI network. Nevertheless, a small yet loyal group continued to communicate and nurture the budding African network. ARIN representatives presented at the South African Research & Innovation Management Association meeting in Namibia in May 2017, at the 5th WCRI in Amsterdam where additional members were invited to join, and at the Science Forum South Africa meeting in December 2017.
Drs. Francis Kombe (Kenya), Limbanazo Matandiki (Malawi), and Christa VanZyl (South Africa), formed an Interim Steering Committee in 2017. Together they have inspired about 30 African representatives and friends from other continents to participate in the network, created a network logo (pending ratification by network members), submitted an application to support a meeting in Africa in 2019, and, most importantly, defined a vision for ARIN along with specific goals.
ARIN Goals and Membership Criteria
ARIN’s goals include:
1) developing a better understanding of, and sensitizing people about the local environment and conditions that affect research integrity in Africa;
2) promoting research integrity by increasing awareness and improving access to information and resources;
3) creating and nurturing leadership in responsible conduct of research in Africa; and,
4) enhancing dialogue, engagement and networking among policymakers, stakeholders and practitioners of research integrity in Africa.
Organic growth has been deemed essential to ARIN, with roots firmly in Africa. Dr. Francis Kombe noted that, “without realising it, we applied principles of the [WCRI] Singapore and Montreal statements. By setting forth a goal, sharing a dream, defining a purpose, and outlining steps to achieve our goal, we are sharing with integrity and trust. We want to support each other.” (paraphrased from Dr. Kombe’s December 2017 Science Forum South Africa presentation).
Like APRI, ARIN does not currently set forth specific membership criteria. As an organic network, ARIN welcomes new members, particularly those based in Africa who share ARIN’s vision of joining hands to promote research integrity in Africa. ARIN’s first formal network meeting, pending funding support, is planned for March 2019.
Many thanks to APRI members Paul Taylor and Daniel Barr and ARIN members Francis Kombe, Limbanazo Matandika, and Christa Van Zyl for their insightful review and editorial contributions to this article.