“Repairing research integrity”

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That is the title of an article in Nature which reports systematic scientific misconduct that is underreported, and postulates some of the reasons, noting: “Nearly one generation after the effort to reduce misconduct in science began, the responses by NIH scientists suggests that falsified and fabricated research records, publications, dissertations and grant applications are much more prevalent than has been suspected to date.” The piece also makes recommendations, including:

Protect whistleblowers
Careful attention must be paid to the creation and dissemination of measures to protect whistleblowers. Responders to our survey said that reporting would be most likely to improve if institutions and the federal government increased the whistleblower protection. Indeed, more than two-thirds of whistleblowers, in a Research Triangle Institute study, experienced at least one negative outcome as a direct result of their actions. Plus, 43% reported that institutions encouraged them to drop the allegation.


Model ethical behaviour
People imitate the behaviour of powerful role models. Institutions successfully stop cheating, for example, when they have leaders who communicate what is acceptable behaviour, encourage faculty members and staff to follow the policies, develop fair and appropriate procedures for handling misconduct cases, focus on ways to develop and promote ethical behaviour, and provide clear deterrents that are communicated.

Via Feminist Philosophers, where the post author speculates that the article’s findings might be replicated with respect to sexual harassment. It’s also worth considering with respect to how misconduct is handled in law schools.

–Ann Bartow

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