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August 11, 1989

Congress Puts Pressure on Scientists to Deal With Difficult Questions of Research Integrity

JAMA. 1989;262(6):734-735. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03430060014003

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CONGRESSIONAL INTEREST in scientific research integrity has taken a new and, in the view of some, more constructive turn. After a month in which one congressional committee called Secret Service investigators to testify about alterations in a scientist's notebooks, some semblance of sanity over the issue of what has been termed "flawed versus fraudulent" scientific research emerged during a hearing before a subcommittee of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, House of Representatives.

While the debate on how to detect, correct, and prevent scientific fraud and misconduct continues, some changes in attitudes among scientists themselves are evident. In 1981, the same subcommittee heard testimony from Donald Fredrickson, MD, then director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Scientific fraud and misconduct were not a general problem, he said then. When it did occur, the scientific system had built-in self-corrective steps.

Different Story Today  Today, says the committee chair, Robert A.