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Lex Bouter NL

Professor of Methodology and Integrity Vrije Universiteit and VU University Medical Center Amsterdam

Monday, 12 September, 18:30 - 19:45 - Science Policy Session on Research Integrity
Room: Gustav Mahler I (Saal 3.1)

Breaches of research integrity can do serious harm to the validity of knowledge and undermine trust in science and in scientists. Major forms of research misbehaviour are the ‘deadly sins’ of fabrication, falsification and plagiarism, which are typically committed intentionally and are believed to be quite rare. Minor forms of research misbehaviour may be much more common and probably do on the aggregate level substantially more harm. Arguable selective reporting stands out among these ‘lesser offences’. Positive results are much more likely to be published. This leads to a distortion in the publicly available evidence. It has become clear than only 10 to 40 percent of published results can be replicated. The likely explanation is than positive chance findings dominate the scientific literature. Selective reporting of research findings needs to be prevented. The key to this is more transparency by making study protocols, logs of data collection, data analysis plans, data sets and all findings prospectively and publicly available. Investigators, research institutions, funding agencies, journal editors and especially scientific societies like EMBO have a responsibility to promote transparency and to prevent selective reporting. Measures that these stakeholders can take to help fighting the current replicability crisis will be presented, in conjunction with their strengths and weaknesses.

Lex Bouter was born in Rotterdam in 1956. After obtaining a MSc degree in Medical Biology at Utrecht University in 1982, he lectured at teacher training colleges in Tilburg and Utrecht. In 1984 he joined Maastricht University, where he was trained as an epidemiologist and obtained his PhD. In 1988 he published a Dutch textbook on epidemiology, the seventh revised edition of which appeared in 2016. In 1992 Bouter took up a tenured position as Professor of Epidemiology and Scientific Director of the EMGO+ Institute for Health and Care Research at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. He was Editor (1996-2002) and Editor-in-Chief (2002-2006) of the Cochrane Collaboration Back Review Group.

From 2001 until 2006 he additionally chaired one of the six divisions at the VU University Medical Center. He was president of the Netherlands Epidemiological Society (1996-1997), member of the Health Council of the Netherlands (2001-2013), vice-chair and methodologist of the Dutch Central Committee on Research involving Human Subjects (2001-2013), and chair of the program committee of the Innovative Medical Devices Initiative of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (since 2009). From 2006 until 2013 he was Rector Magnificus and member of the Executive Board of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In this function he focused on combining research groups in interdisciplinary research institutes. Also as rector Lex pleaded for attention for the societal impact of research, and for attention for the dilemmas around scientific integrity.
Subsequently Lex prepared for a return to science during a sabbatical leave. In 2014 his tenured professorship was broadened to Methodology and Integrity. He is currently involved in teaching and research regarding responsible conduct of research, questionable research practices and research misconduct.

Lex Bouter is author or co-author of 665 scientific publications contained in the Web of Science, which have been cited more than 41,000 times. He is listed among the 400 most influential biomedical researchers and has supervised 73 PhD students, of whom to date 14 were appointed as professor.