Scientific independence and scientific integrity

Prevention of fraud and conflicts of interest in scientific environments is key in research programs, particularly when research is financed by the industry. The best way to guarantee quality and integrity of research(ers), even under performance pressure, resides in maintaining an optimal research culture in which observing a strict ethical code takes a central place.

Researchers who take part in the activities of the BBEMG commit themselves to observe complete scientific honesty. They comply with the ethical code for scientific research in Belgium (*) which is endorsed by their university or institute and hence also pertain to their work as members of the BBEMG. Collaboration with Elia may and will not be of any influence.

Research performed in the framework of BBEMG benefits in part from a financial contribution of Elia. Therefore research agreements are signed between Elia and the universities/institutes to which the researchers belong. The researchers themselves never receive a personal financial support. The research agreement clearly states that the researchers should at any time benefit from complete scientific freedom and that they are totally responsible for the results of their research. They are encouraged to ensure the publication of their results in high quality scientific peer reviewed journals in order to promote the credibility and knowledge of the research.

Peer review

Peer review is the process of subjecting an author’s manuscript (research paper) to the scrutiny of others who are independent experts in the same field, prior to publication in a journal. Based on this evaluation the paper will be rejected or accepted for publication in thepeer reviewed journal. Both the writer and the peer-review reader have something to gain by this process. The writer profits from the feedback he gets. Peer review results in improvement of the quality of the published paper, as errors and missing references or other (minor) shortcomings can still be corrected. In the act of reviewing, the peer-review reader further develops his/her own revision skills. Critically reading the work of another writer enables a reader to become more able to identify, diagnose, and solve some of their own writing issues.

It is important to stress that the review process is absolutely anonymous. The identity of the peer reviewers (usually 2 or more) will never be revealed to the authors of the paper they submitted to a peer reviewed journal. Nobody (except of course the editor) knows the identity of the reviewer and this is so ‘for ever’. It is furthermore also important to know that peer reviewers are not paid for their work. Payment would simply make the cost of publishing too expensive.

Editors of scientific (peer reviewed) journals identify potential peer reviewers based on their recognized expertise. The reviewer is of course free to accept or decline the review task. Acceptance to contribute to the review process is usually based on their expertise, scientific interest and belief that this is important and part of the duties of the reviewer as a member of the academic community.

Peer review is widely supported by academics. A large majority of the scientists agree that peer review greatly helps scientific communication and believe that without peer review there would be no control.

Although, as it is the case for everything, some publications of lesser quality sometimes survive this strict evaluation process, peer review usually provides a performing tool to guarantee high quality scientific publications.