Good Scientific Practice: Developing a Curriculum for Medical Students in Germany

Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (1):127-139 (2020)
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Abstract

German medical schools have not yet sufficiently introduced students to the field of good scientific practice. In order to prevent scientific misconduct and to foster scientific integrity, courses on GSP must be an integral part of the curriculum of medical students. Based on a review of the literature, teaching units and materials for two courses on GSP were developed and tested in a pilot course. The pilot course was accompanied by a pre-post evaluation that assessed students’ knowledge and attitudes towards scientific integrity and scientific misconduct. A syllabus was designed that comprised the following six topics: theoretical foundations of GSP; scientific publishing; empirical data; scientific supervision and teamwork; clinical research; personal interests. The comparison pre versus post-intervention yielded statistically significant changes in regard to the participants’ knowledge and attitude toward all forms of scientific misconduct treated in the course. As the majority of participants was not familiar with the fundamental regulations or guidelines of GSP, it seems crucial to train students in actively applying such norms to real-world conflicts. Students’ unfamiliarity with the fundamentals of GSP can be linked to the fact that many students have already experienced forms of scientific misconduct. Thus, GSP syllabi should be closely adjusted to a student’s realm of experience. All in all, courses on GSP can be seen as a potential means to increase the number of young scholars.

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