One author of a historical study of research groups in the chemical and biochemical sciences has observed that the laboratory director or group leader is the primary determinant of a group's practices (Fruton, 1990). Individuals in positions of authority are visible and are also influential in determining funding and other support for the career paths of their associates and students. Research directors and department chairs, by virtue of personal example, thus can reinforce, or weaken, the power of disciplinary standards and scientific norms to affect research practices.

To the extent that the behavior of senior scientists conforms with general expectations for appropriate scientific and disciplinary practice, the research system is coherent and mutually reinforcing. When the behavior of research directors or department chairs diverges from expectations for good practice, however, the expected norms of science become ambiguous, and their effects are thus weakened. Thus personal example and the perceived behavior of role models and leaders in the research community can be powerful stimuli in shaping the research practices of colleagues, associates, and students.

The role of individuals in influencing research practices can vary by research field, institution, or time. The standards and expectations for behavior exemplified by scientists who are highly regarded for their technical competence or creative insight may have greater influence than the standards of others. Individual and group behaviors may also be more influential in times of uncertainty and change in science, especially when new scientific theories, paradigms, or institutional relationships are being established.

Institutional Policies

Universities, independent institutes, and government and industrial research organizations create the environment in which research is done. As the recipients of federal funds and the institutional sponsors of research activities, administrative officers must comply with regulatory and legal requirements that accompany public support. They are required, for example, “to foster a research environment that discourages misconduct in all research and that deals forthrightly with possible misconduct” (DHHS, 1989a, p. 32451).

Academic institutions traditionally have relied on their faculty to ensure that appropriate scientific and disciplinary standards are maintained. A few universities and other research institutions have also adopted policies or guidelines to clarify the principles that their members are expected to observe in the conduct of scientific research.9 In addition, as a result of several highly publicized incidents of miscon-

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement