Unethical practices within medical research and publication – An exploratory study.
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AbstractThe data produced by the scientific community impacts on academia, clinicians, and the general public; therefore, the scientific community and other regulatory bodies have been focussing on ethical codes of conduct. Despite the measures taken by several research councils, unethical research, publishing and/or reviewing behaviours still take place. This exploratory study considers some of the current unethical practices and the reasons behind them and explores the ways to discourage these within research and other professional disciplinary bodies. These interviews/discussions with PhD students, technicians, and academics/principal investigators (PIs) (N=110) were conducted mostly in European higher education institutions including UK, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Czech Republic and Netherlands. Through collegiate discussions, sharing experiences and by examining previously published/reported information, authors have identified several less reported behaviours. Some of these practices are mainly influenced either by the undue institutional expectations of research esteem or by changes in the journal review process. These malpractices can be divided in two categories relating to (a) methodological malpractices including data management, and (b) those that contravene publishing ethics. The former is mostly related to “committed bias”, by which the author selectively uses the data to suit their own hypothesis, methodological malpractice relates to selection of out-dated protocols that are not suited to the intended work. Although these are usually unintentional, incidences of intentional manipulations have been reported to authors of this study. For example, carrying out investigations without positive (or negative) controls; but including these from a previous study. Other methodological malpractices include unfair repetitions to gain statistical significance, or retrospective ethical approvals. In contrast, the publication related malpractices such as authorship malpractices, ethical clearance irregularities have also been reported. The findings also suggest a globalised approach with clear punitive measures for offenders is needed to tackle this problem.
CitationSivasubramaniam, S.D., Cosentino, M., Ribeiro, L. and Marino, F., (2021). 'Unethical practices within medical research and publication–An exploratory study'. International Journal for Educational Integrity, 17(1), pp. 1-13.
JournalInternational Journal for Educational Integrity
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