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April 8, 1998

Standards for Scientific Behavior and Research Integrity—Reply

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;279(14):1067-1068. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-279-14-jac80003

In Reply.—Ms Jung questions whether our findings demonstrated agreement between scientists and institutional representatives concerning the ethical level of research behaviors but apparently misunderstands the methods and findings of our study. According to the fractional factorial design we used, participants responded to surveys of 12 scenarios that were constructed from randomly chosen phrases consisting of factors hypothesized to be related to whether an act would be judged unethical; this approach resulted in 8364 different possibilities. Thus, no 2 study subjects received the same survey instrument, and each act was considered by only a sample of the respondents. Since the respondents to each question were a random sample of scientists and institutional representatives, the responses could be extrapolated to the populations as a whole. Furthermore, punishments were solicited only from those who considered an act to be unethical. For example, Act 1-1, "fabricates data from scratch," was responded to by 235 scientists and 47 institutional representatives, as noted in Table 1 of our article. All institutional representatives and 99% of scientists felt that this behavior was unethical, with a rating of 9.8 on a 10-point scale. All respondents who considered the act unethical felt that it merited punishment. For this act, consensus was apparently reached.