Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 757–774 | Cite as

The Epistemic Integrity of Scientific Research

Original Paper

Abstract

We live in a world in which scientific expertise and its epistemic authority become more important. On the other hand, the financial interests in research, which could potentially corrupt science, are increasing. Due to these two tendencies, a concern for the integrity of scientific research becomes increasingly vital. This concern is, however, hollow if we do not have a clear account of research integrity. Therefore, it is important that we explicate this concept. Following Rudolf Carnap’s characterization of the task of explication, this means that we should develop a concept that is (1) similar to our common sense notion of research integrity, (2) exact, (3) fruitful, and (4) as simple as possible. Since existing concepts do not meet these four requirements, we develop a new concept in this article. We describe a concept of epistemic integrity that is based on the property of deceptiveness, and argue that this concept does meet Carnap’s four requirements of explication. To illustrate and support our claims we use several examples from scientific practice, mainly from biomedical research.

Keywords

Epistemic integrity Research integrity Scientific integrity Deception Biomedical research Explication 

References

  1. Biddle, J. (2007). Lessons from the Vioxx debacle: What the privatization of science can teach us about social epistemology? Social Epistemology, 21(1), 21–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Carnap, R. (1950). Logical foundation of probability. London: Routledge and Keegan Paul.Google Scholar
  3. Gøtzsche, P. C., Hróbjartsson, A., Johansen, H. K., Haahr, M. T., Altman, D. G., & Chan, A. (2007). Ghost authorship in industry-initiated randomised trials. PloS Medicine, 4(1), 47–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Haack, S. (2007). The integrity of science: What it means, why it matters? In Conselho Nacional de Ética para as Ciências da Vida (Ed.), Ética e Investigação nas Ciências da VidaActas do 10° Seminário do CNECV (pp. 9–28). Lisbon: Presidência do Conselho de Ministros. http://www.as.miami.edu/phi/haack/PORTUGAL.pdf, accessed June 4, 2012.
  5. Johansen, H. K., & Gøtzsche, P. C. (1999). Problems in the design and reporting of trials of antifungal agents encountered during meta-analysis. Journal of the American Medical Association, 282(18), 1752–1759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Melander, H., Ahlqvist-Rastad, J., Meijer, G., & Beermann, B. (2003). Evidence b(i)ased medicine—Selective reporting from studies sponsored by pharmaceutical industry: Review of studies in new drug applications. British Medical Journal, 326(7400), 1171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. National Academy of Sciences. (1992). Responsible science: Ensuring the integrity of the research process (Vol. I). Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  8. National Academy of Sciences. (2002). Integrity in scientific research: Creating an environment that promotes responsible conduct. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  9. Office of Research Integrity. (2007). Research on research integrity. http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-RR-07-004.html, accessed October 25, 2011.
  10. Petrovečki, M., & Scheetz, M. D. (2001). Croatian Medical Journal introduces culture, control, and the study of research integrity. Croatian Medical Journal, 42(1), 7–13.Google Scholar
  11. Posner, R. A. (2007). The little book of plagiarism. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  12. Reiss, J. (2010). In favour of a Millian proposal to reform biomedical research. Synthese, 177(3), 427–447.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Resnik, D. B. (1998). The ethics of science: An introduction. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Resnik, D. B. (2011). Scientific research and the public trust. Science and Engineering Ethics, 17(3), 399–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rochon, P. A., Gurwitz, J. H., Simms, R. W., Fortin, P. R., Felson, D. T., Minaker, K. L., et al. (1994). A study of manufacturer-supported trials of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the treatment of arthritis. Archives of Internal Medicine, 154(2), 157–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ross, J. S., Hill, K. P., Egilman, D. S., & Krumholz, H. M. (2008). Guest authorship and ghostwriting in publications related to rofecoxib. A case study of industry documents from rofecoxib litigation. Journal of the American Medical Association, 299(15), 1800–1812.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Schachman, H. K. (2006). From “publish or perish” to “patent and prosper”. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 281(11), 6889–6903.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Schott, G., Pachl, H., Limbach, U., Gundert-Remy, U., Lieb, K., & Ludwig, W. (2010). The financing of drug trials by pharmaceutical companies and its consequences: Part 2—A qualitative, systematic review of the literature on possible influences on authorship, access to trial data, and trial registration and publication. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, 107(17), 295–301.Google Scholar
  19. Shamoo, A. E., & Resnik, D. B. (2009). Responsible conduct of research (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Steneck, N. H. (2006). Fostering integrity in research: Definitions, current knowledge, and future directions. Science and Engineering Ethics, 12(1), 53–74.Google Scholar
  21. Tandon, R., & Fleischhacker, W. W. (2005). Comparative efficacy of antipsychotics in the treatment of schizophrenia: A critical assessment. Schizophrenia Research, 79(2–3), 145–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Weber, E., De Vreese, L., & Van Bouwel, J. (forthcoming). How to study scientific explanation? http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/8769/1/Weber-HowTo_Study_Scientific_Explanation.pdf, accessed June 4, 2012.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Centre for Logic and Philosophy of ScienceGhent UniversityGhentBelgium

Personalised recommendations