What? − Integru.org is an international collaborative and peer-driven effort to uphold academic integrity and ethical values.
Who? − Internationally established researchers offer independent reviews about the academic conduct (not the content), either ad-hoc or following an invitation from their peers. Independent academics as well as the general public use the Integru platform to submit new cases, recommend experts in the field, invite experts for review, coordinate the review process etc. towards resolving an alleged misconduct case.
Goal? − Integru.org does not make accusations or bring any charges. It publishes cases of academic misconduct with signed reviews from independent and internationally established academics close to the field. It is their voice that brings the authority as they are the actual authority. The aim is to uphold academic integrity and ethical values by raising public awareness to existing breaches of ethical norms and doing this in a collaborative, open and peer-driven manner.
How? − The general public or independent academics submit notifications of breaches of ethical norms, e.g. plagiarism or other evidence of misconduct, and recommend experts in the field who can review it. Independent academics analyze it and a number of independent external experts close to the field are invited to review it, being provided with the analysis of suspected misconduct, the allegedly offending work and the identified original sources. Like the academic peer-review, the invited experts visit a dedicated review page to answer 3-4 simple questions regarding the conduct (not the content) in order to establish whether allegations bear any merit.
Unlike the academic peer-review, all verified reviews are signed (as opposed to anonymous) and are published online on Integru.org (as opposed to being kept private). Furthermore, the reviewers who sign off the reviews are internationally recognized experts. The international track record, impact and position of the experts who publicly sign off reviews, as well as having multiple reviews per case from experts from different institutions across the world, provide transparency and credibility, and promote solid academic integrity and ethical values.
With the launch of Integru Interact (beta), everyone can participate in the above process, including the general public. Each review page contains ad-hoc forms for anyone to Recommend experts in the field of the case, or to Invite them directly, or — if they have expertise in the field themselves or receive an invitation — they can Answer the 3-4 questions. All on the spot: no accounts, no passwords. The platform admins take care of verifying all submitted information.
Why? − Academic misconduct is on the rise, not just in academia. There were serious cases uncovered involving very high-profile leaders like the minister of research and the prime minister in Romania, the country’s president in Hungary, or the defense minister and the education minister in Germany. Not all countries react swiftly. Without sustained counter-action, a wrong and dangerous perception may take hold: that it is common practice. This affects everyone in the society, from students, to young researchers, to established academics, and not least the general public, e.g. when public funds (i.e. tax money) are used for plagiarized national research projects or to provide financial benefits via promotions or grants for officials or academics who plagiarize. These do, after all, constitute a crime.
Solution? − There is no central authority for academic integrity, yet education and research are international and without borders. It is thus down to us, academics and the public, to implement an efficient mitigation system, to participate in it and maintain it clean, open and independent, like academia is meant to be.
The solution could be a system that is collaborative, open and peer-driven having as cornerstone the incontestable authority of internationally established and recognized experts in their field.