Science and Engineering Ethics

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

The Epistemic Integrity of Scientific Research

Original Paper


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.


Epistemic integrity Research integrity Scientific integrity Deception Biomedical research Explication 



Jan De Winter is a Ph. D. fellow of the Research Foundation (FWO) - Flanders. Research for this paper by Laszlo Kosolosky was supported by subventions from the Research Foundation (FWO) - Flanders through research project G.0122.10. We are very grateful to Erik Weber and two anonymous reviewers for reviewing earlier versions of this paper.


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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

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