Scientific misconduct: Present problems and future trends

Science and Engineering Ethics 5 (2):283-292 (1999)
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Substantial progress in handling scientific misconduct cases has been made since the first cases were investigated by the NIH Office of Scientific Integrity in 1989. The successor Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has simultaneously reduced the backlog of cases and increased the professionalism with which they are handled. However, a spate of lawsuits against universities, particularly those brought under the federal False Claims Act, threatens to undermine the ORI by encouraging use of the courts as an alternate route for resolving claims of research misconduct. Next steps should include establishing a government-wide definition of scientific misconduct, providing immunity from lawsuits for institutions that follow proper procedures in investigating charges of scientific misconduct, and participating in the development of international guidelines for maintaining scientific integrity.



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