So now the academies of science, engineering and medicine have updated their standards.
The report published on April 11, “Fostering Integrity in Research,” shines a spotlight on how the research enterprise as a whole creates incentives that can be detrimental to good research.
Robert Nerem, a professor emeritus of bioengineering at Georgia Tech, was not expecting that outcome when he agreed to chair the academy committee five years ago. He thought the committee would simply be updating the 1992 standards.
“We hadn't had more than a couple of meetings when we realized this wasn't a question of updating, this was a question of taking a brand new look and a very different look,” Nerem told Shots.
And it was increasingly clear that issues about proper conduct of research weren't isolated to individual labs, but influenced by a continuously evolving academic, publishing and funding environment.
The focus of the 2017 report also shifts dramatically from the 1992 report, which emphasized individual cases of misconduct and questionable behavior, as opposed to the research enterprise as a whole.
“We've been fond of the 'bad apple' narrative, and we're talking about switching to the barrels and the barrel makers,” said committee member C.K. Gunsalus, who heads the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics at the University of Illinois.
“We're not just talking about misconduct here, which is formally defined in the U.S. as fabrication of data, falsification or plagiarism,” said committee member Brian Martinson, from the HealthPartners Institute in Minneapolis. “We recognize there's a fuller range of behavior that we refer to as detrimental research practices.”
To read the story or listen to the report on NPR, click here.