Our world is growing. The number of researchers and academics is increasing. The pressure for these researchers
and academics, and indeed their institutions, to publish more is ongoing. Consequently, the number of research
publications in both journals and books is on an exponential upward trajectory. Coupled with this positive trend is
the challenge facing all countries, both developed and developing, to uphold the ethics of research and advance
research integrity. However, this task is no longer simple and requires innovative, collaborative and coordinated
approaches to ensure the integrity of the research enterprise. Research integrity may be viewed as active adherence
to the ethical principles and professional standards essential for the responsible practice of research.
The objective of the World Conferences on Research Integrity (WCRIs) is to foster integrity in research. The first
WCRI was held in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2007. Six WCRIs later, participation has grown from 275 participants from
47 countries in 2007 in Lisbon to 701 participants from more than 50 countries at the 6th WCRI held in 2019 in
Hong Kong. The majority of participants were from Asia and Europe, with only 24 participants from Africa. South Africa
has been afforded the privilege of hosting the 7th WCRI in Cape Town in 2021 – the first time that a WCRI will be held
on the African continent. The WCRIs have produced two global statements on research integrity, namely the Singapore
Statement in 20101,2, of which the National Research Foundation (NRF) is a signatory, and the Montreal Statement in
20133,4. In fact, the NRF translated the Singapore Statement into eight of South Africa’s official languages to ensure
wider dissemination of the statement.
According to the Singapore Statement on Research Integrity, the value and benefits of research are vitally dependent
on the integrity of research. While there can be and are national and disciplinary differences in the way research
is organised and conducted, there are also principles and professional responsibilities that are fundamental to the
integrity of research wherever it is undertaken. The Montreal Statement on Research Integrity in Cross‐Boundary
Research Collaborations emphasises that research collaborations that cross national, institutional, disciplinary,
and sector boundaries are important to the advancement of knowledge worldwide. This is particularly important
to the NRF whose mandate includes research collaboration across national, regional and international borders.