[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
June 23, 1993

Scientific Misconduct

Author Affiliations

Staten Island (NY) University Hospital

JAMA. 1993;269(24):3105. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500240049014

To the Editor.  —Ms Dresser1 presents an argument for incorporating mental state concepts into the definitions of scientific misconduct. Thus, an "intent" to defraud would make a researcher culpable, whereas mere "sloppiness, laziness, and tendency to take unjustified shortcuts" would be left to the researcher's institution, guided by "documents" produced by the National Academy of Sciences panel and other professional groups.I strongly disagree. Incorporating judgments as to the offender's intent in the determination of their culpability is likely to land us in a morass of subjectivity and confuse both the researchers and the public. Such judgments have their place in the determination of the severity of sanctions but not of culpability. Deviant behavior should be clearly and explicitly defined; the punishment that is meted out can be adjusted according to the circumstances and motivations involved. That is how our legal system works, defining the crime and allowing the