Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 551–555

Ethical Decision Making in the Conduct of Research: Role of Individual, Contextual and Organizational Factors

Commentary on “Science, Human Nature, and a New Paradigm for Ethics Education”

DOI: 10.1007/s11948-012-9371-x

Cite this article as:
Langlais, P.J. Sci Eng Ethics (2012) 18: 551. doi:10.1007/s11948-012-9371-x


Despite the importance of scientific integrity to the well-being of society, recent findings suggest that training and mentoring in the responsible conduct of research are not very reliable or effective inhibitors of research misbehavior. Understanding how and why individual scientists decide to behave in ways that conform to or violate norms and standards of research is essential to the development of more effective training programs and the creation of more supportive environments. Scholars in business management, psychology, and other disciplines have identified many important factors that affect ethical behavior, including individual, contextual, and organizational factors. Surprisingly little research has been conducted to examine the role of these factors in either the development of ethical decision-making skills, or their applicability to ethical issues commonly encountered in research and other scholarly and professional activities. Interdisciplinary approaches combined with research and discipline relevant paradigms should greatly enhance understanding of the individual contextual and organizational factors involved in ethical and unethical research conduct. Such studies will inform and facilitate the development of more effective ethics education programs in the sciences and engineering professions.


EthicsDecision makingModelsFactorsEducation

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA