When scholarship is turned into practice: a product counterfeiting research project now codified in an international standard

A new International Standards Organization (ISO) publication on product counterfeiting and fraud is featuring two articles published in the Crime Science journal. Dr. John Spink tells us more about this great example of research transferred into an international consensus-based, government-endorsed system, and why it's critical the research is available open access.

It is often difficult to assess how a scholarly, peer-reviewed project and articles actually are used or make a difference. Many research projects often either add an additional insight to a well-established research topic or provide insight on a “new knowledge” offshoot. There is rarely a concrete example of a concept being widely adopted or changing the direction of a practice.

One way to assess a concrete result is if standard operating procedures expand to adopt the new idea. We experienced that with our two Crime Science articles Defining the Types of Counterfeiters, Counterfeiting, and Offender Organizations (2013) and Development of a Product Counterfeiting Incident Clustering Tool (PCICT) (2014). The first article – as you can guess by the title – is a review and publication of definitions of the terms (at the time of publication of this post, the article has been read more than 21,000 times). The second article presented a tool to organize, categorize, and cluster product counterfeiting incidents. Based on a range of concepts such as are presented in Crime Analysis for Problem Solvers in 60 Easy Steps, the clustering allows for a more focused approach to specific types of crime problems.

These two articles were part of the foundation of the new International Standards Organization publication ISO 22380:2018 Security and resilience –Authenticity, integrity and trust for products and documents — General principles for product fraud risk and countermeasures. ISO 22380 uses our Crime Science citations for the definitions in tables including the Types of Motives for Product Fraud, Types of Product Fraud, and Types of Product Fraudsters.

For the concepts to be widely adopted such as in an ISO standard, it was critical that the research be open access. This both allowed every member of the team to read the articles but also there was a greater comfort that future standards readers would also be able to gain access to the full reports.

Beyond the use of our Crime Science journal published definitions, under the section “Profiling product fraud,” it states that “The organization should profile the product fraud by integrating the typology of product fraud motives, fraud behaviors and fraudsters, as described by the Profiling Matrix for Product Fraud.” The method they recommend is the Product Counterfeiting Incident Clustering Tool that includes the Crime Science citation.

While not every ISO standard is universally adopted, a method that is codified in an international consensus based, government endorsed system provides an additional level of credibility and authority. Beyond the formality of citing a scholarly, peer-reviewed publication, there can be a reference to a formal standard.

Crime Science was the most logical outlet for our publication since the scope is interdisciplinary and with an applied focus. We found it refreshing that the editors sought novel concepts and specifically from interdisciplinary research and multidisciplinary teams. While crime science is at the core of our research, we are in the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine and we draw heavily on food science, food safety, supply chain management, managerial accounting, public policy, packaging, and others.

It was also important to us that the research be both based on sound theory but with an emphasis on the direct application by practitioners.

Finally, for the concepts to be widely adopted such as in an ISO standard, it was critical that the research be open access. When we were working on our ISO teams, the open access both allowed every member of the team to read the articles but also there was a greater comfort that future standards readers would also be able to gain access to the full reports.

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