Independence & Ethics
As the ReFINE consortium is part-funded by the hydrocarbon industry, it is vital that measures are undertaken to ensure that all research is impartial and that funders do not have direct influence over research outputs. The ethical procedures put in place are as follows:
All publications will be submitted to recognised journals, where they will be subject to review by scientific experts not involved in the ReFINE project.
Disclosure of Interests
All researchers working on the ReFINE project and all members of the Independent Science Board (ISB) are required to declare any current or past interests that may compromise their impartiality. This includes factors such as previous employment in the hydrocarbon industry, stakes or holdings in any relevant companies, and previous receipt of monies from any of the funding companies.
Independent Science Board
The Independent Science Board (ISB) consists of scientists from across the world. Members of the ISB will not be directly involved in research, but will meet several times per year to review any material published by the workgroups and decide on the direction and focus of future research. It is the responsibility of the ISB to ensure that research is accurate, relevant to the public interest, and free from industry bias.
In line with science ethics committee guidance, all correspondence relating to the project will be recorded using a secure email archive. This will make all data and correspondence available to the public upon request. This level of transparency is essential for ensuring and proving ethical conduct.
ReFINE produced a brief case study on ethical procedures for the journal Research Ethics. The piece outlines the steps taken by ReFINE to ensure independence and ethical conduct are maintained, and raises questions on the ethical issues of undertaking industry-funded projects such as ReFINE.
The case study can be downloaded here.