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May/Jun 2013

Integrity in Research Publishing and Professional Accountability

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: The Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics, Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, The University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio.

JAMA Facial Plast Surg. 2013;15(3):164-166. doi:10.1001/jamafacial.2013.15

Research misconduct and misbehavior undermine the integrity of the scientific process. The downstream effect can be deleterious and widespread, threatening the reputations of the investigators, their institutions, and the publishing journal, and diminishing the public's confidence in the scientific process. More important, erroneous or fabricated data and conclusions can lead to clinical recommendations for the practicing physician that may actually be detrimental to the patient's well-being, particularly if adverse events are underreported. If misconduct occurred during the course of a clinical trial, harm might have been done to the research participants in some way—at the minimum subjecting them to unnecessary therapeutic or invasive procedures. Finally, research misconduct and misbehavior threaten the entire fabric of professional integrity in medicine—for what can be more important to our profession than its individual and collective integrity?

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