Normal Misbehavior: Scientists Talk About the Ethics of Research
De Vries, Raymond
Anderson, Melissa S.
Martinson, Brian C.
Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics 2006 March; 1(1): 43-50
Those concerned with protecting the Integrity of science generally focus on the serious but rare infractions of falsification, fabrication, and plagiarism (FFP). While the violations of FFP are clear threats to the quality of scientific work and public trust in science, are they the behaviors that researchers themselves find most troubling? Noticing that scientists seldom are asked to report their perceptions of the behaviors that pose problems for the enterprise of science, we conducted six focus groups with researchers from major research universities. A total of 51 scientists participated in our focus-group discussions, which lasted from 1.5 to 2 hours each. We found that while researchers were aware of the problems of FFP, in their eyes misconduct generally is associated with more mundane, everyday problems in the work environment. These more common problems fall into four categories: the meaning of data, the rules of science, life with colleagues, and the pressures of production in science. Focus on the "normal misbehaviors" that are part of the ordinary life of researchers allows us to see the way the organization of science generates both compliance and deviance from ethical norms.
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