Journal of Academic Ethics

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 243–256 | Cite as

Conceptual Clarification and the Task of Improving Research on Academic Ethics



What does the term academic ethics mean? How does this term relate to others in the academic integrity literature, such as research misconduct? Does conceptual confusion in the study of academic ethics complicate development of valid analyses of ethical behavior in an academic setting? The intended goal of many empirical projects on academic ethics is to draw causal conclusions about the factors that lead to faculty or students possessing or disregarding academic integrity. Yet, it is not clear that scholars using the concept academic ethics are measuring the same phenomenon when they use associated concepts, such as responsible conduct of research. The purpose of this paper is to develop a taxonomy of concepts for the empirical study of academic ethics. Based in research on comparative analysis of democracy, another normatively preferable but multifaceted concept, I argue for a taxonomy of concepts for the study of academic integrity that reduces problems of “conceptual stretching” and challenges to the validity of empirical research in this field.


Academic integrity Conceptual clarification Essentially contested concepts Research integrity Scientific integrity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics & Public AdministrationUniversity of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong SAR

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