possibly aided by outside mediators, are additional tools to use in addressing these disputes.
The issues associated with conflict of interest in the academic research environment are sufficiently problematic that they deserve thorough study and analysis by major academic and scientific organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences.
The research environment is stressful and yet conducive to the remarkable productivity of researchers. The rewards for successful research are greater now than in the past, but today's rapid pace of development may undermine critical internal checks and balances and may increase opportunities for misrepresentation or distortion of research results.
The panel found that existing data are inadequate to draw accurate conclusions about the incidence of misconduct in science or of questionable research practices. The panel points out that the number of confirmed cases of misconduct in science is low compared to the level of research activity in the United States. However, as with all forms of misconduct, underreporting may be significant; federal agencies have only recently imposed procedural and reporting requirements that may yield larger numbers of reported cases. Any misconduct comes at a price to scientists, their research institutions, and society. Thus every case of misconduct in science is serious and requires attention.
Government agencies, congressional oversight committees, and academic institutions generally agree that the primary responsibility for handling complaints of misconduct in science rests with the research organization. However, the development and implementation of policies and procedures for handling misconduct in science have been problematic. Some universities, particularly small research institutions, are not prepared to accept responsibility for pursuing allegations of misconduct in science. 5 It is difficult for any institution to investigate members of its own community, especially individuals who hold positions of high esteem. In addition, some research institutions and