TL;DR Shorts: Dr Kate Devlin on trust in research

26th March 2024

It’s TL;DR Tuesday again! In today’s TL;DR Shorts tidbit, Dr Kate Devlin gives us her short, snappy insights on research integrity and trust, and how we can achieve a better balance between the rigour of the peer review process and the timely sharing of novel research.

Dr Kate Devlin is Reader in AI & Society at King’s College London, and is a co-investigator on the Responsible AI UK programme – a network that conducts and funds research into AI to benefit people, communities and society and that unites the responsible AI ecosystem in the UK and beyond. Kate was also a speaker at one of our recent events.

Dr Kate Devlin chats about trust and integrity in research – check out the video on the Digital Science YouTube channel:

Kate emphasises the need for research outputs to be valuable to the research community, and also falsifiable. Currently, research published in journals is subject to a rigorous peer review process, which is not always without its own ethical challenges. Though put in place to uphold a level of trust, integrity and credibility in published research, reviewers can sometimes be under a huge amount of pressure, may be too close to the research being reviewed, may overlook the potential impact of more novel ideas, or may have conflicting thoughts due to their own unconscious biases. The process also takes a huge amount of time and can delay the timely sharing of knowledge for others to build on.

Kate argues that while we need review processes, we also need to be able to get information out into the world quickly enough for it to be as useful as possible in research and development. The COVID-19 pandemic was a great example of what can be achieved if we can accelerate the process without compromising on the integrity of the process. Kate suggests that one way of speeding things up without losing the robustness of research is to do more self-checking by adhering closely to basic ethical research practices that should underpin all research.

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