NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
2101 CONSTITUTION AVENUE, NW WASHINGTON. D. C. 20418
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
The right to search for truth implies also a duty; one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true.
These words are inscribed on the statue of Albert Einstein that stands at the front of the National Academy of Sciences building. The search for truth is the vocation of every scientist, a vocation that inspires each of us to pursue exciting and controversial ideas, to engage in spirited exchange with our colleagues and critics, and to counter customary habits of thinking and analysis with new insights and observations.
This report, Responsible Science: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process thoughtfully examines the challenges posed in ensuring that the search for truth reflects adherence to ethical standards. In recent years, we have learned, sometimes painfully, that not all scientists adhere to this obligation. Reports of falsified research results and plagiarism involving both junior and senior scientists have stimulated doubts and criticism about the ways in which misconduct in science is addressed by the research community. Misconduct in science is now being publicly examined in all of its aspects--how misconduct is defined, the process by which misconduct is discovered, and procedures for judging innocence or guilt and assessing penalties. Also being explored are the appropriate roles of individuals, research institutions, journals, government research agencies, and the legal system.
Issues of misconduct and integrity in science present complex questions. These issues require the sustained attention of all members of the research community as well as of leaders in the public and private sector who are concerned with safeguarding the health of science. In this regard, ensuring the integrity of the research process is similar to assuring safety in the workplace: it is a process that requires continued participation from all levels of the entire research enterprise--the practitioners, the host institutions, the sponsors in government, and the legislators who provide the funds.