Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 897–921 | Cite as

Individual and Organizational Predictors of the Ethicality of Graduate Students’ Responses to Research Integrity Issues

  • Philip J. LanglaisEmail author
  • Blake J. Bent
Original Paper


The development of effective means to enhance research integrity by universities requires baseline measures of individual, programmatic, and institutional factors known to contribute to ethical decision making and behavior. In the present study, master’s thesis and Ph.D. students in the fields of biological, health and social sciences at a research extensive university completed a field appropriate measure of research ethical decision making and rated the seriousness of the research issue and importance for implementing the selection response. In addition they were asked to rate their perceptions of the institutional and departmental research climate and to complete a measure of utilitarian and formalistic predisposition. Female students were found to be more ethical in their decision making compared to male students. The research ethical decision measure was found to be related to participants’ ethical predisposition and overall perception of organizational and departmental research climate; however, formalism was the only individual predictor to reach statistical significance and none of the individual subscales of the research climate measure were significantly correlated to ethicality. Participants’ ratings of the seriousness of the issue were correlated with their ratings of the importance of carrying out their selected response but neither was significantly predictive of the ethicality of their responses. The implications of these findings for the development of more effective training programs and environments for graduate students in research ethics and integrity are discussed.


Ethical decision making Graduate students Predispositions Organizational research climate Research integrity 



The authors wish to acknowledge and thank Matthew R. Pearson for his helpful comments and suggestions and Tamara Doyle and Amber Johnson for their contributions to the present effort.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA

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