Research Integrity collaborations

For researchers, being able to trust the published material (incl. research artifacts like data and software) in scholarly communications is imperative. It’s one of the main aspirations of peer review: no editor or reviewer wants to have unethically manipulated, improperly analyzed or incorrectly attributed information slip into publications.

Elsevier has developed significant resources supporting research integrity. These include educational resources for authors, various support mechanisms to assist the peer review process and tools to help editors and reviewers identify problematic manuscripts.

Alongside these efforts, we work in collaborative partnerships with research institutes to develop the next generation of educational tools, peer review support and technology to ensure research integrity is embedded at every step of the research process.

Humboldt-Elsevier Advanced Data and Text (HEADT) Centre

Panelists at the 2017 HPCC Systems Summit Community Day included Prof. Johann-Christoph Freytag (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) on left.

Education is the heart of research integrity. The Humboldt-Elsevier Advanced Data and Text (HEADT) Centre was formed in 2016 to support education, training and research on research integrity. The team at HEADT runs frequent seminars and workshops, and is launching a certification program in digital curation and research integrity. It is also building a searchable database of manipulated scholarly images for researchers who are working on the development of image manipulation detection algorithms.

Image manipulation detection

Examples of visual overlays produced from algorithm-based best-fit alignments of sample images (anchored by user-defined ROI in yellow box): two candidate images that do not align (left panel; Pearson correlation 0.02) and two that do align (right panel; Pearson correlation 0.92). (Source: original images from Qin et al paper in Cell Stem Cell, published in 2013 and retracted in 2015)

Images have always been the most difficult part of research articles to assess for misuse or manipulation. With support from Elsevier, the team at Image and Data Analysis Core (IDAC), at Harvard Medical School is working to develop a tool that can objectively indicate whether an image has been changed or is a duplication. The tool may ultimately feature in Elsevier’s editorial submission system.


It’s difficult to assess the reproducibility of articles when software is not static. With his team at New York University, Professor Dennis Shasha has developed ReproZip, a tool to ensure that researchers can provide the computational environment of their work to reviewers in order to prove its reproducibility. The use of the tool is being piloted in the Elsevier journal Information Systems.

Fostering transparent and responsible conduct of research

Culture and behavioral expectations play a strong role in research integrity. In this project with Amsterdam Medical School, University of Split School of Medicine, and VU University Medical Center, the team is studying the current view on publication ethics topics as well as research integrity- and transparency-related policies of scholarly journals. The team is assessing editors’, authors’ and reviewer’ perceptions and attitudes towards topics related to responsible conduct of research in order to make recommendations around how publishers and journals may implement publication principles.