The issue of research fraud affects not only the people committing this crime but also the scientific community because it impacts the perception of the public and allows dishonest scholars to collect grants and financial rewards. Actions such as plagiarism and falsification of study outcomes or data collected during research are considered science fraud. This paper aims to introduce the policy connected to science fraud that will help deal with cases like this and provide a rationale that explains its implications.
The normative claim that guides this paper is that a specific policy should be created to help with science fraud cases. More specifically, all institutions engaged in scientific research should have an office of information ethics together with guidelines and rules that help identify fraud. Additionally, individuals who committed the crime should be subjected to a thorough investigation from this department to examine their previous works. This will help attract more attention to the issue and provide an understanding of the actions that the scientific community takes to protect both itself and the public from misconduct.
From an ethical perspective, the commitment to scientific fraud is unfavorable because it obstructs society from functioning efficiently. Additionally, the reasoning behind this policy choice is the example of other countries that apply a similar approach and the article by Sharma who conducts an in-depth review of this issue and provides strategic solutions (341). Moreover, the general ethical principles that apply to society as a whole dictate a need to pay additional attention to the cases of scientific fraud because they imply the misrepresentation of information and deception.
Researchers who follow ethical principles can achieve consistent results and provide benefits to others. Sharma states that “the society trusts that the results and the projected outcome of any scientific activity are based on an honest and conscientious attempt by the scientific community” (341). Therefore, the general approach to scientific discoveries is based on the assumption that scientists follow ethical principles. However, the pressure to deliver significant results and make progress in various fields of study increases the number of cases of misconduct, and thus individuals choose to avoid adhering to ethics to advance in their careers.
These ethical principles apply to science fraud because the work of individuals in different fields is based on mutual trust that enables one to use results from previous studies and develop new insights. Additionally, as was previously mentioned, the people in the non-scientific community rely on researchers in making conclusions regarding specific phenomena. Horbach et al. state that before the significant increase in the number of reported fraud cases, it was generally believed that scientists possess particular self-regulation mechanisms that exclude the possibility of misconduct (scy068). Thus, scientists should avoid misconduct or fraud commitment in their work.
Public policies from other countries can help understand the implications and possible approaches to overcoming scientific fraud. Cyranoski provides an example of China, where the policy of social responsibility in regards to scientists accused of misconduct is being developed. More specifically, future laws will prohibit such individuals to obtain bank loans or create business ventures. Grant argues that among the most important issues of scientific fraud, apart from misrepresentation of data, the ability to receive grants is the most concerning. Thus, people who did not make an effort to obtain desired results within their research can falsify data and receive monetary rewards. In China, such a possibility will be mitigated, which should encourage individuals to avoid dishonesty.
Additionally, it is necessary to clearly define the issue and its scope to create effective policies. Moreover, public policy should focus on prevention, which will obstruct fraudulent papers from being published by scientists (Spink et al. 116). Based on this information, it can be argued that a coherent system of reviewing issued material should exist to prevent this problem from occurring. Horbach et al. describe the cases of handling research fraud in Norway and the Netherlands that substantiate the claim that public policies should address the issue of science misconduct (scy068).
Among the primary causes of the problem in question defined by the authors is the lack of social control that can be mitigated through the development of laws and institutes. Thus, the issue in question is caused by non-adherence to ethical principles and the lack of policies or other mechanisms that would target prevention and control.
Overall, the issue of science fraud remains an essential topic for discussion in the community. The policy that would entail punishment for such cases should be introduced to minimize the number of misconduct cases. An institution that oversees all research activity in universities across the country can help reduce the number of misconduct cases. Additionally, the example of China presents an overview of a government policy that obstructs scientists from receiving specific benefits if they are accused of fraud. This approach is consistent with ethical standards and principles because it targets deceit in the community.
Grant, Richard. “Why Scientists Need to do More about Research Fraud.” The Guardian, 2018. Web.
Horbach, Serge, et al. “Organisational Responses to Alleged Scientific Misconduct: Sensemaking, Sensegiving, and Sensehiding.” Science and Public Policy, 2018, p. scy068.
Sharma, Om. “Ethics in Science.” Indian Journal of Microbiology, vol. 55, no. 3, 2015, pp. 341-344.
Spink, John, et al. “The Application of Public Policy Theory to The Emerging Food Fraud Risk: Next Steps.” Trends in Food Science & Technology, vol. 85, 2019, pp. 116-128.