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Research Misconduct in the Fields of Ethics and Philosophy: Researchers’ Perceptions in Spain

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A Correction to this article was published on 20 May 2021

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Empirical studies have revealed a disturbing prevalence of research misconduct in a wide variety of disciplines, although not, to date, in the areas of ethics and philosophy. This study aims to provide empirical evidence on perceptions of how serious a problem research misconduct is in these two disciplines in Spain, particularly regarding the effects that the model used to evaluate academics’ research performance may have on their ethical behaviour. The methodological triangulation applied in the study combines a questionnaire, a debate at the annual meeting of scientific association, and in-depth interviews. Of the 541 questionnaires sent out, 201 responses were obtained (37.1% of the total sample), with a significant difference in the participation of researchers in philosophy (30.5%) and in ethics (52.8%); 26 researchers took part in the debate and 14 interviews were conducted. The questionnaire results reveal that 91.5% of the respondents considered research misconduct to be on the rise; 63.2% considered at least three of the fraudulent practices referred to in the study to be commonplace, and 84.1% identified two or more such practices. The researchers perceived a high prevalence of duplicate publication (66.5%) and self-plagiarism (59.0%), use of personal influence (57.5%) and citation manipulation (44.0%), in contrast to a low perceived incidence of data falsification or fabrication (10.0%). The debate and the interviews corroborated these data. Researchers associated the spread of these misconducts with the research evaluation model applied in Spain.

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A summary of the results gathered in each of the three processes conducted was published in Spanish in an open report. Available at:

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Correspondence to Ramón A. Feenstra.

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Feenstra, R.A., Delgado López-Cózar, E. & Pallarés-Domínguez, D. Research Misconduct in the Fields of Ethics and Philosophy: Researchers’ Perceptions in Spain. Sci Eng Ethics 27, 1 (2021).

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