Is it Time to Revise the Definition of Research Misconduct?

Research paper by David B DB Resnik

Indexed on: 17 Jan '19Published on: 17 Jan '19Published in: Accountability in research


US federal policy defines research misconduct as fabrication of data, falsification of data, or plagiarism (FFP). In recent years, some have argued or suggested that the definition of research misconduct should also include sexual harassment, sabotage, deceptive use of statistics, and failure to disclose a significant conflict of interest. While the arguments for revising the definition of misconduct used by federal agencies to include misbehaviors other than FFP are not convincing at this point in time, the arguments for revising definitions used by other organizations, such as professional societies, universities, or journals, may be. Since these other organizations play an important role in promoting integrity in science and deterring unethical behavior, they may consider adopting definitions of misconduct that extend beyond FFP. Debates about the definition of research misconduct are a normal and healthy part of broader discussions about integrity in science and how best to promote it. These debates should continue even if the federal definition of misconduct remains unchanged.