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Implications of Scientific Misconduct

by | Mar 26

What are the implications of dishonesty or scientific misconduct for the findings from researchstudies? This is a nursingresearch class. I have licensure in several states, but my primary licensure state is Kentucky. I thought it may vary from state to state?? Thanks for your guidance in this question. I am terrible at search engines and have spent a long time searching. I have found out a lot of information about dishonesty and misconduct, but not with regards to the actual implications. Thanks again!

Patricia Keith-Spiegel, Keith Aronson, and Michelle Bowman,* Ball State University (May, 1994)

Research has suggested that scientific misconduct may be partially socialized during the undergraduate years (Keith-Spiegel, Lee, Spiegel and Zinn-Monroe, manuscript in preparation). For example, many undergraduate students believe that they will get better grades on their experimental projects if they can produce statistically “significant” results. Students also allow sympathetic situational factors to excuse unethical scientific practice.
To encourage the coverage of scientific values and misconduct, we have created a resource bibliography of interesting, quality articles and books from the popular and scholarly literature that could be integrated into lectures or used as the bases for student reports.

Bechtel, H. K., & Pearson, W. (1985). Deviant scientists and scientific deviance. Deviant Behavior, 6, 237-252.
An interesting look at scientific fraud from three sociological perspectives on deviance. Rather than accepting the “bad seed” argument, the authors present scientific fraud as an “elite occupational deviance” resulting from a “conflict between goals and the ability to achieve them through legitimate means.” The increasingly business-like approach to science seems to have legitimized the use of deviance in science. There has been a “reorientation away from the traditional values of disinterested inquiry.”
Begley, S. (1993, March 22). The meaning of junk. Newsweek, 62-64.
A 1991 California appeals court ruled that only scientific evidence that is “generally accepted and published in peer-reviewed journals is admissible in court.” The ruling has divided scientists into those who support the ruling as a deterrent to the practice of poor scientific practice and those who oppose the ruling on the grounds that a good deal of junk science currently exists in peer-review journals and a lot of good science never gets published. Arguments supportive of both positions are presented.
Bell, R. (1992). Impure science: Fraud, compromise, and political influence in scientific research. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Money has a major influence on scientific behavior. As competition for grants and pressures to produce increase, “doctoring” of data may also increase. Colleagues are resistant to report perpetrators because the entire organization may lose credibility or funding. The author examines the roles of the peer review system, referee system, and replication in detecting misconduct. Bell suggests that conflicts of interest often hinder the preventative aspects of the system. For example, often the whistle blower is punished for speaking out. Bell sums up with prospective changes.
Ben-Yehuda, N. (1986). Deviance in science. The British Journal of Criminology, 26, 1-27.
An extensive and clearly written article on several characteristics of the scientific community that may lead to misconduct. Specifically, the author examines problems in the self-correcting nature of scientific research, lack of replication, high levels of specialization that hinder self-correction, institutions that suppress investigations, punishments that are usually mild, reward systems that induce people to cheat, and differences between what constitutes deviance and error. The author uses excellent case examples to clarify his points.
Broad, W. J., & Wade, N. (1982, November). Science’s faulty fraud detectors. Psychology Today, 51-57.
An ineffective three-tiered system of scientific self-correction is suggested as the source of increased fraudulent practice. The peer review system appears not well controlled. The peer review process may be subject to bias toward recognized name institutions as well as toward research that is in accord with the referee’s views. The case of Marvin Spector is used to illustrate the failure of replication, the third-tier of scientific self-correction in preventing scientific fraud.
Broad, W. G. (1981). Fraud and the structure of science. Science, 212, 37-41.
Ideally, scientific research should be self-correcting and, therefore, protect against fraud. Unfortunately, due to a lack of replication and a professional “immunity from scrutiny,” protection from fraud may not prevail. Historically, philosophical views of science have included the notion that “small cheating is essential to the advancement of science.” It is further suggested that fraud may not be occurring more frequently than in the past, but is rather reported with greater frequency. Increased whistle blowing and more aggressive self-policing may be the result of increased competition. Several policing measures are suggested.
Broad, W. J. (1982). Harvard delays in reporting fraud. Science, 215, 478-482.
A critical account of the manner in which Harvard University handled the case of Dr. John Darsee. It suggests that Harvard ignored Dr. Darsee’s fraud for 6 months and only took action against him after inquiry from the National Institutes of Health. This article is interesting yet disconcerting to read.
Broad, W. J. (1982). Report absolves Harvard in case of fakery. Science, 215, 875-876.
Explanation is given as to why Harvard was cleared of wrong-doing in the Darsee case. The article suggests, however, that the investigating committee, which included a majority of Harvard employees, was less than aggressive in its investigation. The Harvard panel suggested several steps that might reduce the occurrence of research misconduct. The recommendations presented include: careful examination of the credentials of prospective researchers, detailed and explicit procedures for handling data, closer and more frequent scrutiny of work in progress, attempts at replication in the same laboratory, discouragement of secrecy, greater emphasis on quality and significance of research rather than on quantity, and closer personal interaction between faculty and fellows.
Brown, A. S., & Murphy, D. R. (1989). Cryptomnesia: Delineating inadvertent plagiarism. Journal of experimental psychology, 15, 432-442.
Evidence clearly supportive of the existence of a phenomenon called “cryptomnesia” is presented. Cryptomnesia is the objective presence of a memory in one’s conscious which, subjectively, is not recognized as a memory but rather as a new phenomenon being experienced for the first time. Cryptomnesia has been used as a defense in both scientific and musical plagiarism cases.
Cronan-Hillix, T. (1988). Teaching students the importance of accuracy in research. Teaching of Psychology, 15, 205-207.
Students have not been sufficiently trained to understand that correctness, precision, and attention to detail in research are critical. In an effort to bring this point home to students, Cronan-Hillix assigns failing grades to students whose results sections in research papers include even one error. Students may make corrections and re-submit for re-grading, although resubmitted papers are reduced one …

This solution discusses the implications of dishonesty or scientific misconduct for the findings from research studies. Supplemented with an informative article and references are provided.



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