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Responsible Science: Ensuring the Integrity of the Research Process, Volume II
formal policies and procedures are needed and that such investigations require certain standards of evidence to support claims by individuals accused of misconduct.
Over the past decade exchanges between the scientific community and the Congress over questions of misconduct in science have been marked by tension over the legitimate roles and responsibilities of each group to address these issues. Similar tension has characterized other discussions of congressional oversight or regulation of scientific research.
Throughout these discussions Congress and its committees have affirmed their belief in the veracity of scientific research and the importance of the contributions of the research community to the nation. In fact, more often than not congressional committees have argued that they are supporters of science and that they have an obligation and an interest to see that the enterprise remains healthy.
Many authors have noted the role of the media in disclosing accounts of research misconduct as a key factor in bringing the misconduct issue to the attention of Congress. Another factor in the legislative review process is the growth in staff and oversight responsibilities that occurred in the Congress in the mid to late 1970s. A third factor is reports by congressional staff that they receive a constant, if somewhat low-level, stream of complaints from scientists who believe there is something wrong with the system. As long as these allegations have substance and are not seriously addressed by the institutions of science, it is likely that Congress will remain interested in the issue of misconduct. Furthermore, misconduct in science is one of several issues on the congressional agenda with regard to universities and the academic research enterprise that include indirect cost payments, facilities maintenance, conflicts of interest, and education, all of which will continue to receive increased attention.