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RESPONSIBLE SCIENCE: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process
search behavior. In addition to relying on traditional methods of individual instruction and professional example, research institutions are seeking more explicit ways to aid their members' efforts to discriminate between acceptable and unacceptable research practices.1
Recognition that many types of research practices that do not constitute misconduct in science are nevertheless questionable and fall well short of responsible research behavior. Scientists and the public in general are likely to grow dissatisfied with self-serving research practices that erode communal values and standards.
Regulations requiring institutions that receive research funds from the Public Health Service (PHS) to establish an environment that discourages misconduct in science.2 In addition, applicants for biomedical training grants funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and by the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration (ADAMHA) must now demonstrate that they provide instruction in the “responsible conduct of research ” in their training programs 3
Belief that sustained efforts by the research community to strengthen the accountability and integrity of the research environment may obviate the need for additional federal intervention.
Some research institutions have sought to develop educational programs or guidelines intended to foster responsible research practices. The effectiveness, desirability, and need for such programs and guidelines have been debated and discussed within the research community. Although many advocate expansion of the research institution's role in fostering responsible research practices, others—often individual faculty members —have expressed caution based on the following assumptions:
Institutional efforts designed to foster integrity in the research environment may be misinterpreted as an admission that the system is not working well or that faculty are not exercising their responsibilities.
Institution-wide programs designed to encourage responsible research practices may weaken individual and departmental efforts to achieve the same goals. Institutional programs may all too easily intrude on and replace the more personal—and possibly more effective—efforts of individual scientists who regard the fostering of scientific responsibility as a professional obligation.
Self-imposed institutional guidelines or educational programs may encourage government to utilize this mechanism for inappropriate oversight.