The importance of an Ethics and Research Integrity Officers Network in Europe

Joana Porcel, research manager at ISGlobal, tells us about her experience as a member of ERION, and why is it important for the centres at the PRBB to be part of it.

In order to be trusted by the public and the whole scientific community, research has to be done with integrity. ERION is formed by people who work to ensure this. Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

In March 2018, at the Covent Garden in Brussels, a group of about 50 people met for the first time to set up the basis of a new thematic group on research ethics and research integrity. The launch event was organised by the European Association for Research Managers and Administrators (EARMA) in collaboration with the Ethics and Research Integrity Sector of DG RTD of the European Commission.

As a results, the Ethics and Research Integrity Officers Network (ERION), as part of EARMA, started its intense and fruitful activity, with two main aims:

  1. to exchange best practices and information for dealing with the current challenges in the field
  2. to create a dialog with the EU R&I Ethics Sector for proving input as a stakeholder.

Since the very beginning, several members of the PRBB Working Group of Good Scientific Practices – mainly Maruxa Martinez, coordinator of this intercentre group at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB), Eva Casamitjana also from ISGlobal, and myself – have been actively involved with ERION, as core members, participating in workshops as organisers or speakers, and attending to the different activities, presential or online.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the ERION meetings in the last couple of years have been online.

During these almost 4 years, and regardless of the pandemic times, ERION has organised eight biannual meetings plus additional webinars and workshops, usually between two and four every year. Some of the topics discussed include:

The latter resulted in a report summarizing the identified best practices and key elements for the implementation of training programmes for researchers in RI and Ethics.

The next meeting is planned for May 2022 around the topic of International Research and Collaboration. It will take place in Brussels, and registration is open.

Beyond our internal activities, ERION also participates in EU projects and Initiatives, be it as partner, as a representative in stakeholder forums, as training and workshop facilitator, etc.

Why become a member of ERION?

At the open session we held in early December to introduce the network to all EARMA, the testimonials agreed that ERION has filled a relevant gap on RI and Ethics in Europe, thanks to its focus on IMPLEMENTATION.

Common words that we shared include networking, learning, contributing, influencing, innovating,… But there is a word that I like the most: ALIGNMENT.

In ERION we all have the same aim: to implement the highest standards on Research Integrity and Ethics in Europe
Joana Porcel (ISGlobal)

Being part of ERION has allowed me to feel that all stakeholders involved, the European Commission and its independent experts, the institutions and their researchers, the officers working on RI and Ethics, the Ethics Committees, and many others, are on the same boat rowing on the same direction: implementing the highest standards on Research Integrity and Ethics.

And of course, last but not least, we enjoy meeting with many great colleagues all over Europe.

Joana Porcel is a ISGlobal Research Manager, the Head of the Projects Unit and Data Protection Officer, and a core member of ERION.

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