Research Misconduct and the Scientific Process: Continuing Quality Improvement
Accountability in Research 2006 July-September; 13(3): 225-246
The response to research misconduct involves the attempt to regulate behavior through (a) creating and enforcing a rule and (b) ethics education. The roles of each must be shaped by considerations of the nature of scientific practice. Given the nature of science, the role of (a) must be limited in scope: both in the types of behavior it covers and in the level of intent that must be present for an allegation of misconduct to be proven. Since one important role of ethics education is to fill the gaps that regulatory rules leave open, it is this limitation in scope and its source in theoretical concerns that better reveals the type and kind of education needed. It is argued that much of the current ethics education falls short. Since the gaps left by the rule are largely due to theoretical concerns about the very nature of the scientific process and the nature of that process is constantly evolving, ethics education must focus more heavily on theory and must reach a wider audience. It is argued that ethics education can be more effective if it aims, in part, in creating a discipline-specific, constantly evolving standard of care.
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