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February 17, 1993

Defining Scientific MisconductThe Relevance of Mental State

JAMA. 1993;269(7):895-897. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500070075032

HARDLY a month goes by without word from the science journalists of another alleged "research scandal." The reports are a product of the increased awareness that scientists, subject to normal human frailties, sometimes place self-interest and convenience above the painstaking disinterestedness good research demands. They also reflect the growing acknowledgment that traditional safeguards of replication and peer review are insufficient in the contemporary research climate. Today, scientists, institutional administrators, and government officials subject the research process to unprecedented scrutiny in an effort to detect,

For editorial comment see p 915. investigate, penalize, and prevent behavior that unacceptably departs from scientific standards. After over a decade of extensive debate and analysis, however, an adequate definition of the targeted behavior has yet to emerge. There is a disturbing lack of clarity regarding the specific conduct that ought to be the focus of professional, institutional, and government attention. This lack of clarity has