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Ethical Challenges in Science: Dilemmas, Misconduct, Plagiarism, Improvements

Klaus Petritsch

436 pages
Arcler Education Inc
Meta-studies across many fields indicate that much if not most of published scientific findings are false. This (for most people surprising and even startling) claim appears to be a consequence of a combination of factors, one of which is scientific misconduct (e.g. research biases) and other related ethical challenges. This book aims to provide insight into this and other ethical problems within the modern scientific enterprise. To achieve this goal, the editor selected 15 peer-reviewed papers from scientific journals and organized them into two thematic parts. The first part attempts to cover the full range1 of ethical challenges including common ethical dilemmas, misconduct, and plagiarism. This spectrum is large so that young researchers and many experienced scientists may discover something interesting or useful. For example, there are dozens of biases that consciously – but mostly subconsciously – distort every researcher’s objectivity. The nature of the human mind determines that ethical research requires more than genuine intention of being honest. Good research involves a continuous active struggle with psychological traps, which we can only win through increased awareness and the introduction of active measures to avoid them. During the research for this book, the editor too discovered more than a few biases and other problems that he has not been sufficiently aware of. His hope is that this book will also be helpful to others and provide significant new insights.Part 1, “Ethical Challenges in Scientific Research, Healthcare, and Publishing” starts with an overview of statistical evidence for “Why most published research findings are false”, which also highlights the importance of meta-research, i.e. research on research, to improve science. This is followed by papers on questionable research practices among psychologists, complex issues around plagiarism and self-plagiarism, and missing awareness of several types of biases, among researchers. A lack of scientific rigor and ethical awareness has also been identified with research on animals, despite earlier efforts of putting relevant guidelines in place. The situation seems improving but only slowly. Particularly challenging scientific fields are those that involve humans or animals such as all biosciences, psychology, and pharmacy. Ethical aspects are also addressed for collaboration among researchers and health professionals in general. Several papers in this section of the book identify bio-ethical challenges and discoveries related to these fields. Part 2, “Moral Codes, Preventing professional misconduct, Ethics training”, is the editor’s attempt to bundle helpful interesting studies that offer, directly or indirectly, a good proportion of ideas for improvements. The first paper “When lying feels the right thing to do” describes a study that found that people behave more dishonestly after their work has been rejected. This finding, for example, has useful implications for the improvement of rejection guidelines in peer-reviewed journals but it can also be helpful in other contexts to ensure honest behavior. The next papers focus on ethical training methods. The reader will find case studies, an online curriculum and other resources for veterinary undergraduate learning/teaching in animal welfare and ethics, as well as details how to teach doing philosophy (which often deals with ethical dilemmas) effectively. Another paper reveals how medical practitioners with different experience respond differently to unreasonable patient demands for antibiotics, using virtual reality technology. This technique may also be used to prepare health-care professionals who frequently face such dilemmas. The remaining papers offer many specific ideas for improvements and cover the following topics: meta-research, peer review in open access and subscription journals, principles for strengthening the integrity of clinical research, drafting ethical codes of conduct, the ARRIVE guidelines for reporting animal research, and a self-assessment tool for ethics committees at universities and similar institutions.
Author Bio
Klaus obtained his PhD in science after working as research assistant at the University of Cambridge, UK. He published over 20 papers, gave presentations to large international science audiences, taught physics, and trained technical staff in a Silicon Valley solar energy start up. In Finland, a global leader in education, Klaus complemented his degrees with certificates in vocational teaching, instructional design, and eLearning. He regularly conducts workshops on learning at one of Finland’s leading universities in teacher education and freelances as learning consultant, editor and instructional designer.