Ethics of Research: Scientific Misconduct


Scientific misconduct presents a challenge, not just to the reputation of the misbehaving scientist, but also to research institutions, the integrity of the scientific record and to the enterprise of science itself. In this article we discuss the varied definitions of scientific misconduct and explore the social sources of the concern with the misbehaviour of researchers as well as competing explanations of the causes of that misbehaviour. We review efforts to prevent scientific misconduct and look at how the (mis)conduct of researchers will be influenced by the trend towards interdisciplinary collaboration and the globalisation of research.

Key Concepts:

  • Common misbehaviours in research threaten the integrity of science in addition to the more egregious, yet less frequent, acts of falsification, fabrication and plagiarism.

  • Scientific misconduct results from the behaviour of ‘bad apples’ and the organisation of science.

  • Responses to scientific misconduct must address individual and organisational sources of misbehaviour.

  • The rise of interdisciplinary science and the globalisation of science present new challenges to integrity in research conduct.

Keywords: scientific misconduct; research misconduct; integrity; ethics of research; organisation of science


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Further Reading

Anderson MS and Steneck NH (eds) (2010) International Research Collaborations: Much to be Gained, Many Ways to Get in Trouble. New York: Routledge.

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Blom, Erica C, and De Vries, Raymond(Dec 2010) Ethics of Research: Scientific Misconduct. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0003483]