is an expression of a broader social pattern of deviation from traditional norms. In addition, it has been noted that some areas of research, such as biological and clinical research, do not yet proceed from explicit scientific laws and also make extensive use of empirical observations not related to theory. Moreover, the characteristics of certain research materials in these fields inhibit the replication of research findings as a vehicle for self-correction.
The panel has reviewed various suggestions about possible causes of misconduct in science but makes no judgment about the significance of any one factor. The panel believes that speculations about individual pathology or about environmental factors as the primary causes have not been verified; misconduct in science is probably the result of a complicated interaction of psychological and environmental factors. Moreover, although one or more such factors may contribute to specific cases of misconduct in science, the panel has not discerned a broad trend that would highlight any single factor as a clear generic cause.
Regardless of the causes of deviant behavior, the panel is concerned that some “cures” for misconduct in science would damage the research process itself. The uncertainty of evidence about external factors as causes means that recommending policy solutions for treating and preventing the problem of misconduct in science is problematic. As a result, efforts to foster integrity in the research process and to reduce the occurrence of misconduct in science should be evaluated systematically to identify steps that prove to be effective. A range of possible steps is discussed in the following chapters.
The integrity of the research process has sometimes been called into question by sensationalized reports about specific cases of misconduct in science.24 But because misconduct in science seems infrequent, many scientists have suggested that it does not present a serious problem. According to this view, when misconduct occurs in an important field of research, incorrect information will be corrected or eventually replaced by correct results through the work of others.
The panel agrees that confirmed cases of misconduct in science are rare. Nevertheless, the panel believes that every case of misconduct in science is serious and requires action for the following reasons:
Misconduct is wrong. One can object to misconduct in science simply on ethical grounds, since it often involves actions that betray personal and public trust and the search for truth. Misconduct in