While conducting research or writing professional articles or papers, it is expected that one meets certain laid-down ethical guidelines. Ethics in research has become one of the most essential topics in academia, and areas of scientific dishonesty have been identified. In my opinion, the areas of scientific dishonesty should be ranked as follows, starting with the most serious to the least serious violation: 1. Fabrication and falsification 2. Plagiarism 3. Faulty data gathering procedures 4. Non-publication of data 5. Sneaky publication practices 6. Poor data storage and retention
7. Misleading authorship Fabrication and falsification of data is publishing information or basing research on events that did not occur at all (Reskin, 2010). Under falsification, overstated numbers, alteration of data, inclusion of personal biases and misinterpretation of literature are the forms of scientific dishonesty. When fabrication and falsification have been done, works produced do not have a basis or any truth in them; and therefore mislead the readers (Reskin, 2010). This could have very serious consequences; basing literature on lies therefore misinforming the public.
It therefore comes first in the list. Plagiarism is the use of copyrighted materials or generally other people’s without acknowledging their contribution (Indiana University, 2004). It is very unethical not to give credit to people who struggled to produce work, and a researcher or a professional writer would be claiming to be the originator of the ideas if he or she does not acknowledge the actual producers of literature material. It comes second in my list of scientific dishonesties (Indiana University, 2004).
Faulty data gathering is third, since if data collected is not precise or accurate, the conclusions are going to be force; and the effect is like that of falsification (Callahan, & Hobbs, 1998). At number four is non-publication of data, which occurs when data is suppressed. It is unethical to ignore exceptions even in cases where nothing conclusive has been established from research, since finding out nothing is just as important as finding out something. If the results are withheld, future researches may be conducted with the same mistakes (Callahan, & Hobbs, 1998).
Sneaky publication practices come in at number five since it withdraws a large measure of integrity or authenticity of information (Gregory, 20003). At number six is poor data storage and retention practices since in this way, information, no matter how valuable, is easily lost, therefore undermining the impact of research and writing. I chose misleading authorship as the least serious area of scientific dishonesty through ethical violations knowing that since it gives people claim for projects they did not fully participate in; it does not have effect on the quality of information (Jefferies, 2004).
Informed consent is a term used in the ethical or legal context to indicate that the consent a person gives regarding certain events or activities involving him or her meet certain minimum standards (Reskin, 2010). An informed consent is issued by a person to indicate that he or she is fully aware and that he or she clearly understands and appreciates the facts related to the event, its implications and finally, its long term impact. The purpose of informed consents is to make sure that people are not coerced or forcibly involved in activities against their wish.
People must also be made fully aware of the procedures they are to be involved in; and the potential risks from such. People allowed to give informed consents must first be proved to possess properly functioning intuitive and mental faculties (Reskin, 2010). People who are impaired by factors and diseases such as mental retardation, potentially damaging mental illnesses, intoxication from substances like alcohol, acute sleep deprivation, Alzheimer’s disease or a being in a comma are not allowed to give informed consents.
Without an informed consent, it would be ethically and legally wrong to perform some acts on an individual (Callahan, & Hobbs, 1998). People who are not in a position to give informed consents for either of the above mentioned reasons or by virtue of being too young generally have other people acting on their behalf give informed consents for them (Jefferies, 1999). For example, a parent or a guardian can give an informed consent relating to their children. The same applies for mentally incapacitated people or people in a comma; like a husband can give an informed consent on behalf of his wife when she is in a comma.
Treatment of human subjects must be ethical and respectful at all times. The rights of human subjects are protected by the justice system; and there is a standing requirement that all research projects involving human subjects must first be approved by the Institutional Review Board (Gregory, 2003). Federal Law also has provisions to protect human subjects from abuse by researchers, and the American Psychological Association (APA) has well documented standards of ethics which researchers must abide by while handling human subjects (Gregory, 2003).
The above guidelines are meant to ensure that human specimens are treated with the respect they deserve and are not exposed to risks without their consent. It is required that they be informed of all the details of research procedures, the risks that may arise and any potential long term effects of the research (Callahan, & Hobbs, 1998). The research must also be tailored in such a way that it benefits them in one way or another. Their justice should also be assured.
Investigators or researchers first have the responsibility of making sure that they study the ethical acceptability of procedures they intent to apply on human subjects; and they must also respect a human subject’s wish to accept or decline involvement in a research, and their choice to withdraw if the need arises (Callahan, & Hobbs, 1998). If undesirable side effects result, it is the responsibility of the researcher to remedy the situation. Animal subjects, despite the fact that they cannot give informed consents, also have rights which are protected; and their use in research is also governed by some ethical standards.
First of all, the use of animal subjects in research should be justified (Reskin, 2010). Animals should not be used in projects that are not going to yield anything useful to the human society. Secondly, animal subjects should be properly handled. Any studies conducted on them should not alter their natural functionality or harm them in irreversible ways. Proper living environments and sufficient food should be provided to animals under captivity, and animals should only be handled by sufficiently trained personnel (Reskin, 2010).
Research should be optimized to reduce pain and harm on animal subjects, and it is important that the animals are legally acquired and the research given the go ahead by the authorities. It is also an ethical requirement that humane treatment of animals in research institutions is ensured at all times (Reskin, 2010). Animal rights activists have been on the forefront of campaigning for the abolition of vivisection, or at least humane treatment of animal subjects.
Callahan, T. , & Hobbs, R. (1998). Research Ethics. Retrieved May 8, 2010, from http://depts.washington. edu/bioethx/topics/resrch. html Gregory, I. (2003). Ethics in Research. New York: Continuum. Indiana University. (2004). Plagiarism: What it is and How to Recognize and Avoid it. Retrieved May 9, 2010, from http://www. indiana. edu/~wts/pamphlets/plagiarism. shtml Jefferies, S. (1999). Ethical Issues in Research. Retrieved May 9, 2010, from http://www. cwu. edu/~jefferis/PEHL557/pehl557_ethics. html Resnik, D. (2010). What is Ethics in Research & Why is It Important? Retrieved May 8, 2010, from http://www. niehs. nih. gov/research/resources/bioethics/whatis. cfm
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