motivations for funding research have focused increasingly on technological innovation, economic competitiveness, and education. This shifting rationale for federal support has been accompanied by demands for tighter management and oversight of research.
How the contemporary research environment affects the integrity of the research process and the incidence of misconduct in science is poorly understood. But individual scientists and public officials have expressed concern about several factors that may foster dishonest behavior, which can range from subtle exaggeration of the value of research results to actual fabrication or falsification of research findings. One such factor is the pressure associated with producing research results to attract and maintain stable funding in a research system that cannot support all meritorious research proposals. Such pressure could erode the high standards of honesty and open collaboration that have traditionally characterized the scientific community. This and other concerns, coupled with heightened public awareness of waste, fraud, and abuse in other publicly supported activities, suggest that government oversight of the conduct of scientific research is likely to continue, if not increase. Such scrutiny has profound implications for the system of internal checks and balances in the research enterprise, which were designed for a research environment far removed from the forces of the political process.
Many factors have contributed to the evolving research scene, including the increasing complexity of contemporary research problems and instrumentation, the increasing costs of scientific research, changes in the rationale for supporting and monitoring government-funded research, and increased regulation of federal research. Other principal factors affecting the research environment include the scale, scope, and organization of research centers and groups; the changing character of collaborative efforts; the growing number of contenders for research funds; the reward system; and increasing emphasis on commercialization of research results. Combined, these factors exacerbate conflicts that have always been apparent to some extent in scientific research.
One example of the recent and profound changes characterizing the contemporary research environment is the changing nature of its basic organizational unit. Twenty years ago, a hypothetical laborato-