A Cross-Sectional Survey Study to Assess Prevalence and Attitudes Regarding Research Misconduct among Investigators in the Middle East
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Recent studies from Western countries indicate significant levels of questionable research practices, but similar data from low and middle-income countries are limited. Our aims were to assess the prevalence of and attitudes regarding research misconduct among researchers in several universities in the Middle East and to identify factors that might account for our findings. We distributed an anonymous questionnaire to a convenience sample of investigators at several universities in Egypt, Lebanon, and Bahrain. Participants were asked to a) self-report their extent of research misconducts, as well as their knowledge of colleagues engaging in similar research misconducts and b) provide their extent of agreement with certain attitudes about research misconduct. We used descriptive, bivariate, and multivariate logistic regression statistics to analyze the data. Data from 278 participants showed a high prevalence of misconduct, as 59.4% of our respondents self-reported to committing at least one misbehaviors and 74.5% reported having knowledge of any misbehaviors among any of their colleagues. The most common type of self-report misconduct was “circumventing research ethics regulations” (50.5%) followed by “fabrication and falsification” (28.6%). A significant predictor of misconduct included a lack of “prior ethics training”. Scientific misconduct represents a significant issue in several universities in the Middle East. The demonstration that a lack of “prior ethics training” was a significant predictor of misconduct should lead to educational initiatives in research integrity. Further studies are needed to confirm whether our results can be generalized to other universities in the Middle East.
KeywordsResearch ethics Research misconduct Responsible conduct in research Middle East
Supported by Award Number R25TW007090–10 of the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health.
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