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Integrity in Scientific Research: Creating an Environment that Promotes Responsible Conduct
what cannot be done; it rarely prescribes what should be done (see Chapter 4 for further discussion of the strengths and limitations of a regulatory approach). In essence, government rules define the floor of expected behavior. More, however, should be expected from scientists when it comes to the responsible conduct of research. By appealing to the conscience of individual scientists, the scientific community as a whole should seek to evoke the highest possible standard of research behavior. When institutions committed to promoting integrity in research support those standards, the likelihood of creating an environment that advances responsible research practices is greatly enhanced. It is essential that institutions foster a culture of integrity in which students and trainees, as well as senior researchers and administrators, have an understanding of and commitment to integrity in research.
The committee’s task was to define integrity for the particular activity of research as conducted within contemporary society. Integrity has two general senses. The first sense concerns wholeness; the second, soundness of moral principle (Oxford English Dictionary, 1989). Plato and subsequent philosophers have argued that leading the good life depends on a person’s success in integrating moral, religious, and philosophical convictions. In conversations with experts in ethics and others, the committee found no consensus regarding whether a person could exhibit high integrity in research but not in other aspects of his life. Consequently, the committee decided to focus on the second aspect of integrity—namely, soundness of moral principle in the specific context of research practice.
INTEGRITY IN RESEARCH
Integrity characterizes both individual researchers and the institutions in which they work. For individuals, it is an aspect of moral character and experience.1 For institutions, it is a matter of creating an environment that promotes responsible conduct by embracing standards of excellence, trustworthiness, and lawfulness that inform institutional practices.
For the individual scientist, integrity embodies above all a commitment to intellectual honesty and personal responsibility for one’s actions and to a range of practices that characterize responsible research conduct. These practices include:
intellectual honesty in proposing, performing, and reporting research;
Further discussion of moral character and behavior and the development of abilities that give rise to responsible conduct can be found in Chapter 5.