using inadequate training methods or refusing to share research data or reagents are not desirable, such actions generally are regarded as behaviors that are not comparable to the fabrication of research data. In the same manner, sexual harassment and financial mismanagement are illegal behaviors regardless of whether scientists are involved, but these actions are different from misconduct in science because they do not compromise, in a direct manner, the integrity of the research process.

Unethical actions of all types are intolerable, and appropriate actions by the research community to address such problems are essential. But the panel believes that there are risks inherent in developing institutional policies, procedures, and programs that treat all of these behaviors without distinction. Inappropriate actions by government and institutional officials can create an atmosphere that disturbs effective methods of self-regulation and harms pioneering research activities. In particular, many scientists are concerned that the term “misconduct in science,” which has been construed as including “serious deviations from accepted practices” (as currently defined in government regulations), could be defined in such a way that it could be applied inappropriately to the activities of honest scientists engaged in creative research efforts.

The panel recognizes that this framework may not satisfy all scientists, lawyers, or policymakers. Its primary purpose is to advance the quality of policy and educational discussions about distinctions between different kinds of troubling behavior within the research environment, and to allow scientists, institutional officers, and public officials to focus their attention and their efforts toward prevention on substantive issues rather than discrepancies in terminology. Thus the framework of definitions proposed in this report should be viewed as a tool for use in a sustained effort by the research community to strengthen the integrity of the research process, to promote responsible research conduct, and to clarify appropriate methods to address instances of misconduct in science. The three categories will need to be refined through continued dialogue, criticism, and experience.

In developing its framework of definitions, the panel adopted an approach that evaluates how seriously the various behaviors compromise the integrity of the research process. The panel also considered other criteria, such as intent to deceive. The panel concluded that while intention is important, especially in the adjudication of allegations of misconduct in science, intention is often hard to establish and does not provide, by itself, an adequate basis for separating actions that seriously damage the integrity of the research process from questionable research practices or other misconduct.1617

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