Crossref at WCRI 2024

In the first week of June, we were in sunny Athens to participate in the 8th World Conference on Research Integrity. This four-day conference brought together hundreds of participants that included research integrity experts, universities, research institutes, publishers, and funders from all over the world to discuss key issues related to research integrity and reproducibility.

Six workshops were offered as part of the pre-conference program on the first day of the event, with topics ranging from key techniques to assess research integrity of publications, building leadership capacity for early career researchers, to doctoral forums in which PhD students in the field of research integrity could engage in insightful discussions with their peers.

There were 6 plenary sessions, more than 100 oral presentations, and close to 200 poster presentations during the conference. With so many relevant sessions happening in parallel, it was difficult at times to choose between the sessions. One of the first plenary talks, titled “Cautionary tales from Metascience”, was given by Daniele Fanelli, Assistant Professor at Heriot-Watt University. He argued that practices and pressures in science vary across fields, disciplines, social and cultural contexts, and this variation is likely to have consequences on reproducibility and research practices. Therefore, he wondered whether the current reproducibility crisis has been exaggerated disproportionately because the field of metascience has not taken into account the complexity of science and made broad generalisations about research practices.

Rita Faria, from School of Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Porto, had a fascinating oral presentation titled ‘The relevance of criminological inquiry on research misconduct’ based on her work on research misconduct and white collar crime. The growing concerns with paper mills, which refers to organisations that produce fake articles, featured heavily in several talks and presentations. With Svetlana Steiner, Research Integrity Adviser at Springer Nature, we took a deep dive into the workings of one papermill and her ‘Findings from a Paper Mill’ generated a lot of conversations. Anna Abalkina, from Freie UniversitĂ€t Berlin, had an interesting poster about her research on paper mills, which also included an interactive “Find an issue” website.

Several presentations mentioned the work that is being done to develop indicators for identifying fraudulent work - these incorporate features such as papermill markers, statistical inconsistencies, missing citations, and more. Qinyue Liu, Amira Barhoumi and Cyril LabbĂ©, from the UniversitĂ© of Grenoble Alpes, introduced some promising research on the detection of citation accuracy using large language models with their poster titled ‘Toward identifying mis-citations in scientific papers’ - which could help with some of the challenges currently experienced by publishers with citation manipulation. Reproducibility was another big theme- regional reproducibility networks and research institutes shared about the initiatives being run by them and their impact, such as the TIER2 project, Brazilian Reproducibility Initiative, iRISE, among others.

Research on preserving the integrity of clinical research trials and health interventions, challenges with hijacked journals, and presence of tortured phrases in scientific literature were the focus of some of the sessions that we had a chance to attend. Alex Clausse’s talk titled “Mining tortured acronyms from the scientific literature” generated a lot of interest and was covered by Science in this article. Wendeline Swart’s and Guillaume Cabanac’s (from UniversitĂ© Toulouse 3 – Paul Sabatier) oral presentation ‘Year after year: tortured conference series in computer science’ was much talked about. More information on tortured phrases is available via the Problematic Paper Screener.

From Crossref, it was the both of us- Fabienne Michaud and Madhura Amdekar- in attendance, with Madhura presenting a poster on “Preserving the Integrity of the Scholarly Record: Insights from the Crossref Community”. As part of the poster walk, we interacted with the attendees and discussed how scholarly metadata can be a marker of trustworthiness and how we can work together to preserve the integrity of the scholarly record. Do check out our series of blogs about integrity of the scholarly record (ISR) to find out more about this work!

The conference was an excellent opportunity to meet our members, and it was particularly special to connect with some of the Crossref Similarity Check Advisory group members in person. It was also amazing to see conversations and collaborations taking place between folks from different organisations but working on similar topics. We had some great conversations, made some new connections, and enjoyed the view of the Acropolis at dusk! We are keen to continue these conversations with our community and very much look forward to the next edition of this conference that will be in Vancouver in 2026.