and their institutions to honest and verifiable methods in proposing, performing, evaluating, and reporting research activities. This term is sometimes thought to be synonymous with “integrity of science, ” but the terms of reference are different.14 Science is not only a body of information, composed of current knowledge, theories, and observations, but also the process by which this body of knowledge is developed. Furthermore, the scientific process is a social enterprise that involves individuals and institutions engaged in developing, certifying, and communicating research results. Throughout this report the panel focuses on the integrity of the research process as defined above.
Misconduct in science is commonly referred to as fraud.15 But most legal interpretations of the term “fraud” require evidence not only of intentional deception but also of injury or damage to victims. Proof of fraud in common law requires documentation of damage incurred by victims who relied on fabricated or falsified research results. Because this evidentiary standard seemed poorly suited to the methods of scientific research, “misconduct in science ” has become the common term of reference in both institutional and regulatory policy definitions.
However, “misconduct in science” as commonly used is an amorphous term, often covering a spectrum of both significant and trivial forms of misbehavior by scientists. The absence of a clear, explicit definition that focuses on actions highly detrimental to the integrity of the research process has impeded the development of effective institutional oversight and government policies and procedures designed to respond to such actions. Varying definitions of misconduct in science have also impeded comparison of the results of survey studies. If, for example, survey respondents apply the term “misconduct in science” to a broad range of behaviors that extend beyond legal or institutional definitions, their responses weaken the significance of reported survey results.
In order to provide policy guidance for scientists, research institutions, and government research agencies concerned about ensuring the integrity of the research process as well as addressing misconduct in science, the panel developed a framework that delineates three categories of behaviors in the research environment that require attention. These categories are (1) misconduct in science, (2) questionable research practices, and (3) other misconduct.
The panel seeks to accomplish several goals by proposing these three categories. Foremost is a precise definition of misconduct in science aimed at identifying behaviors that scientists agree seriously damage the integrity of the research process. For example, although