misconduct in science, scientists and their research institutions face three major challenges. One challenge is to develop vigorous approaches to protect and enhance knowledge of scientific traditions and sound research practices and to penalize those who engage in misconduct. A second challenge is to foster responsible research conduct in a period of increasing diversification of funding sources, growing demands on limited research, resources, and greater incentives for financial gain in the research environment. A third challenge is to ensure fairness and balance in efforts to establish individual and institutional accountability in scientific research activities, so that frivolous or malicious charges as well as counterproductive regulations are avoided.
To address concerns that affect the entire U.S. scientific community, the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine convened the 22-member Panel on Scientific Responsibility and the Conduct of Research. The panel was asked to examine the following issues:
What is the state of current knowledge about modern research practices for a range of disciplines, including trends and practices that could affect the integrity of research?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of enhanced educational efforts and explicit guidelines for researchers and research institutions? Can the research community itself define and strengthen basic standards for scientists and their institutions?
What roles are appropriate for public and private institutions in promoting responsible research practices? What can be learned from institutional experiences with current procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in science?
In addition to outlining approaches to encourage the responsible conduct of scientific research, the panel was also asked to determine whether existing unwritten practices should be expressed as principles to guide the responsible conduct of research. If the panel members judged it advisable, they were encouraged to prepare model guidelines and other materials.