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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 111-113

Research and publication-integrity and ethics

Associate Editor, Journal of Dental Research and Review, Lecturer, Department of Periodontics and Oral Implantology, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Dr. D. Y. Patil Dental College and Hospital, Pune 411 002, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication8-Dec-2014

Correspondence Address:
Rahul Kathariya
Associate Editor, Journal of Dental Research and Review, Lecturer, Department of Periodontics and Oral Implantology, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Dr. D. Y. Patil Dental College and Hospital, Pune 411 002, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2348-2915.146485

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How to cite this article:
Kathariya R. Research and publication-integrity and ethics. J Dent Res Rev 2014;1:111-3

How to cite this URL:
Kathariya R. Research and publication-integrity and ethics. J Dent Res Rev [serial online] 2014 [cited 2022 Nov 27];1:111-3. Available from: https://www.jdrr.org/text.asp?2014/1/3/111/146485

Research can be defined as the practice of testing new hypothesis or idea through the acquisition, analysis, and systemic examination of qualitative and/or quantitative data.

Clinical research is defined research involving scientific investigation of the etiology, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of human disease using human subjects, human populations, or materials of human origin. Included in the definition are studies that utilize tissues or pathogens that can be linked to a patient. [1]

Publication of medical research is essential for the proliferation, dissemination, and documentation of medical knowledge, culminating in significant effects on the health and disease. However, publication of research is the need-of-the-hour for appreciation and promotion of self in this competitive environment. This has created a situation wherein so-called researchers are subverting the ethos of honesty and integrity leading in scientific misconduct.

Scientific misconduct can be defined as the violation of the standard codes of scholarly conduct and ethical behavior in professional scientific research. [2]

According to David [3] of Fanelli [4] there are motivators for scientists to commit misconduct.

  Career Pressure Top

Science is strongly career-driven discipline. Scientists/researchers depend on a good reputation to receive ongoing support and funding, and a good reputation relies largely on the publication of high-profile scientific papers. Hence, there is a strong imperative to "publish or perish." This may motivate desperate (or fame-hungry) scientists to fabricate results.

  Ease of Fabrication Top

In many scientific fields, results are often difficult to reproduce accurately. That means that even if a scientist does falsify data, they can expect to get away with it - or at least claim innocence if their results conflict with others in the same field. It is relatively easy to cheat although difficult to know exactly how many scientists fabricate data. [3]

There are about 30,000 biomedical journals and the instances of misconduct have been ever increasing. Many classifications have been applied to misconduct in research, but the most accepted is the one postulated by the "Office of Research Integrity (ORI) of the United States," describing them as fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism ("FFP"). [5]

Three groups of people are responsible for scientific research misconduct: (1) Those actually performing the research (Investigators/Researcher, Scientists, Authors), (2) those who are assessing the research (Editors, Peer reviewers), and (3) those who support the research (Funding agencies, Ethical and Scientific Committee of the Institutions).

  Scientific Misconduct by Researchers Top

Fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism or other practices that acutely deviates from that is accepted within the scientific fraternity for recommending, conducting and reporting research.

While the "FFP" part of the definition is accepted readily by the scientific community the later portion was seriously debated. Members of the scientific community felt that enforcing the later portion of the definition would amount to curbing the independence of thinking and would force scientist to be orthodox and restrict the flow of ideas as quoted by  David Goldstein. [3] Hence, a revised definition was proposed and scientific misconduct was defined as only "FFP" was adopted in 2002.

Various types of research misconduct: [4]

  • Fabrication: Is making up data or results and recording or reporting them
  • Falsification: Is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record
  • Plagiarism: Is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

The definition of scientific misconduct is understated; there are other forms of important recognized misconducts which many of us are unaware of.

  • Self-plagiarism: Copying part or whole of the previously published report
  • Multiple publication "salami-slicing" (identical slices): The selective use of research-project results to maximize the number of possible publications or of the same content with different titles and/or in different journals. According to some MJE this includes publishing the same article in different languages [6]
  • Ghost writing: The phenomenon where someone other than the named author(s) makes a major contribution. In general, this is done to mask contributions from drug companies. This misconduct has an additional element of financial fraud
  • Ghost author: The real contributed author is not listed as an author
  • Guest author: Inclusion of individuals as authors who have not made a definite contribution to the published work
  • Self-citation: Citing his/her own articles to improve author citation
  • Bare assertions: Making entirely unsubstantiated claims - may also be considered a form of research misconduct although there is no evidence
  • Suppression: The failure to publish significant findings due to the results being adverse to the interests of the researcher or his/her sponsor(s)
  • Violations of norms: Reporting the work as ethically cleared although it is not approved. Willful violations of applicable local law and regulation involving the use of funds, care of humans and animals, investigational drugs, new products and devices, radioactive, biologic, or chemical materials
  • Competing interest: Lack of declaration of competing interests and/or funding/sponsorship
  • Photo manipulation/image fraud: Manipulation of images to distort their meaning.

However, research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of opinion.

  Ensuring Integrity in Misconduct by Researchers Top

Ensuring the integrity of the published records, and to minimize research or publication misconduct. International agencies have been formulated which makes policies and guidelines for authors and editorial organizations. Researchers/authors are advised to follow guidelines such as

  • ORI http://ori.hhs.gov
  • Committee for Publication Ethics http://publicationethics.org
  • Publication Integrity and Ethics http://www.integrity-ethics.com
  • The UK Research Integrity Office http://www.ukrio.org/.

  Ensuring Integrity in Misconduct by Editors/Reviewers Top

Journals are responsible for safeguarding the research record and hence have a critical role in dealing with suspected misconduct. Editorial offices are advised to follow guidelines lay down by committees such as:

  • World associations of Medical Editors www.wame.org
  • International Committee of the Medical Journals Editors www.icmje.org
  • Council of Science Editors www.councilscienceeditors.org
  • European Association of Science Editors www.ease.org.uk
  • Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers www.alpsp.org/.

  Ensuring Integrity in Misconduct by Supporters Top

Guidelines lay down by Nuremberg code in 1947 [7] and the subsequent Declaration of Helsinki 1964 (and later revised in 2002 and 2013) are to be followed by supporters in order to ensure integrity of any research and publication. [8],[9],[10] Besides the guidelines lay down by the above organizations along with national medical/dental councils in association with the highest research bodies of the individual countries like Indian Council of Medical Research for India.

Fraud and deception in medical research often has understated and underreported. One reason for this could be the fact that there is no standard and universally accepted norms of what constitutes scientific misconduct, making it more difficult to identify and prevent from continuing. Knowingly or unknowingly we all may have committed some or the other form of misconduct, reason being we were unaware. No matter how hard we try, scientific misconduct is going to prevail in some or the other form. I feel the only way we could prevent it is by educating the individuals starting out at very junior positions in medical research to be taught the basics of medical research ethics. Furthermore, I would like to urge the national councils for inclusion of syllabi of conduct and misconduct in research and publication at all levels of higher education.

  References Top

Available from: http://www.ddcf.org/Programs/Medical-Research/Grant-making-Process/Definition-of-Clinical-Research/#sthash.KmRigyZi.dpuf. [Last accessed on 2014 Oct 29].  Back to cited text no. 1
Available from: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_misconduct. [Last accessed on 2014 Oct 29].  Back to cited text no. 2
Goodstein D. Scientific Misconduct. Academe (AAUP); 2002. Available from: http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/pubres/academe/2002/JF/Feat/good.htm. [Last accessed on 2014 Oct 29].  Back to cited text no. 3
Fanelli D. How many scientists fabricate and falsify research? A systematic review and meta-analysis of survey data. PLoS One 2009;4:e5738.  Back to cited text no. 4
Available from: http://www.ori.hhs.gov/definition-misconduct. [Last accessed on 2014 Oct 29].  Back to cited text no. 5
"Publication Ethics Policies for Medical Journals - The World Association of Medical Editors". Available from: http://www.wame.org. [Last accessed on 2014 Oct 27].  Back to cited text no. 6
Shuster E. Fifty years later: The significance of the Nuremberg Code. N Engl J Med 1997;337:1436-40.  Back to cited text no. 7
Available from: http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/b3/17c.pdf. [Last accessed on 2014 Oct 29].  Back to cited text no. 8
Carlson RV, Boyd KM, Webb DJ. The revision of the Declaration of Helsinki: Past, present and future. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2004;57:695-713.  Back to cited text no. 9
Available from: http://www.wma.net/en/20activities/10ethics/10 helsinki/. [Last accessed on 2014 Oct 30].  Back to cited text no. 10


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Career Pressure
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