Scientific research has often led to the numerous developments and discoveries that have changed and revolutionized the society. Research can entail various hiccups and frustrations as well as triumphs. Experiments may fail due to the poor planning, technical hitches or simply the intractability of nature. As compared to the past, the conduct of research is now regulated and closely monitored. This essay shall, for this reason, discuss the ethical aspects of today’s research (Recker 252).
Ethics in Research
People usually think of ethics as rules distinguishing right from wrong. Ethics can, for this reason, be defined as the norms of conduct that separate unacceptable and acceptable behavior. Ethical norms are usually learned in church, at school, at home or any other social settings. As human beings undergo different levels of development, moral development occurs, although many people get their sense of what is morally wrong and right during childhood (D, Angelo 15).
Ethics is essential in everyday life as it is in different professions, institutions, and disciplines. Different institutions have particular norms for behavior that suit their goals. There are several reasons as to why ethical norms are important, particularly in Scientific Research. First of all it promotes the goals of the research, such as truth, knowledge and avoidance of error. For instance, there are prohibitions against misinterpretation, falsifying and fabrication of research data. Also, since research requires cooperation of different people from different institutions, ethical standards provide values such as accountability, trust, impartiality and mutual respect, which are essential to collaborative work (Judson et al. 134).
Ethical norms also ensure that researchers are accountable to the public. This is mainly so because public money often funds researchers. The ethical norms put in place also help build the public confidence and support for the research. This is because people are inclined to fund the research if they can trust the integrity and quality of the research. Finally, various norms of research encourage other significant social and moral values (Lock et al. 74). They promote values such as human rights, social responsibility, animal welfare, health and safety and most importantly compliance with the law.
The Government and the Freedom of Science
This article mainly sheds light on the tremendous support the government has given to scientific research. However, over the past few decades, some of the grants that had been given for scientific research have been revoked due to allegations of subversive activities. The issues that were raised caught the attention of the scientific community in the United States of America. Later on, reports that were being circulated claiming that the grants were being revoked on grounds that were political and not relating to the integrity or competence of the researchers involved.
The article emphasizes on how the withholding of funds for research by the government is abhorrent to the Scientific Community. The article dwells on the threat the government poses to scientific research, the freedom of science and how different scientists take their stands and policies concerning the issue. The article explicitly states that a flourishing science is a condition for the prosperity of a modern nation. Therefore, my opinion is that the scientific organizations should form a council or committee that deals with giving out grants to the researchers that deserve them as opposed to the government, which has no scientific expertise, making that decision. This will consequently encourage the freedom and prosperity of science in the future (Xin 57).
Cases and Scenarios
Professional practice: using company resources. XYZ Corporation permits its employees to borrow company tools. The Engineer Al House took full advantage of this privilege. He went one step further and ordered the tools for his unit that would be useful for his home building projects even though they were of no significant use to his unit at XYZ. Engineer Michael Green had suspected for some time that Al was ordering tools for personal rather than company use, but he had no unambiguous evidence until he overheard a revealing conversation between Al and Bob Deal, a contract salesman from whom Al frequently purchased tools.
Michael was reluctant to confront Al directly. They had never gotten along well, and Al was a senior engineer who wielded a great deal of power over Michael in their unit. Michael was also reluctant to discuss the matter with the chief engineer of their unit, in whom he had little confidence or trust.
Eventually, Michael decided to talk with the Contract Procurement Agent, whose immediate response was, “This stinks.” The Contract Procurement Agent agreed not to reveal that Michael had talked with him. He then called the chief engineer, indicating only that a reliable source had informed him about Al House’s inappropriate purchases. In turn, the chief engineer confronted Al. Finally, Al House directly confronted each of the engineers in his unit he thought might have “ratted” on him. When Al questioned Michael, Michael denied any knowledge of what took place.
Later, Michael explained to his wife, “I was forced to lie. I told Al, ‘I don’t know anything about this.'”
Discuss the ethical issues this case raises.
Al cheats his company by ordering tools for his use and Michael fears confronting Al because of his managerial power over him. Michael also lies about having disclosed Al.
Lying, which is a social disease can be endured in mild forms but can be dangerous in advanced stages. In this case, Al performs an unlawful act and should be thoroughly reprimanded for his actions. Michael should have confronted Al directly about his unlawful endeavors or agreed when he was asked whether he was responsible for ‘ratting out’ Al. Michael should not have to work at that company if he has to lie to protect his job. If the management fails to back Michael, he will simply know that he is working for the wrong organization and should look for a working environment, which is more suitable for him.
The theme of this article is that Scientists and their institutions are well equipped to respond to alleged or actual scientific misconduct. Scientists and research administrators largely agree that it would be better for all concerned and science itself if the press never got involved in allegations of scientific misconduct except to report final outcomes. However, institutions have now put in place procedures to deal with scientific misconduct. This procedure helps tackle the internal problems without unnecessary publicity. Often, the disputes that arise in the science arena require some level of expertise of which the journalists lack. For this reason, it would be more reasonable for the dispute to be handled by other scientists.
Although it is highly discouraged, the media can act as the last resort if the procedures put in place to curb misconduct are not efficiently functioning. Robert Sprauge, a scientific whistleblower, always advises other potential whistleblowers to go through the proper chain of command set by the Universities or ORI and one should also count the costs before he or she continues. This is because the price for whistleblowing may be devastating to the whistleblowers personally.
Misconduct in Science
Other than honest errors and those caused through negligence, there are those that are caused by mere deception. Misinterpreting data or results (falsification), using someone else’s ideas or work without giving credit and making up results or data (fabrication) are all forms of gross misconduct in science. Someone engaging in the above practices puts his career at risk. Misconduct in science is usually unlikely to stay internal to the scientific community. This is because it leads to the embezzlement of public funds, may harm individuals out of science and may raise the attention of those who seek to criticize science.
Answers to the article on Fabrication in A Grant Application:
1. Yes, Scientists often exaggerate the publication status of their work
2. No, the Department acted reasonably. This is because fabrication of data can have detrimental effects on both the University and the community at large
3. Yes, I believe it should be a prerequisite, for obtaining an advanced degree since a higher level of integrity, is required.
4. No, other institutions don’t have the right to know what happened. This will enable Don to turn possibly over a new leaf and right his wrongs.
Answers to the article on A Case of Plagiarism:
1. Yes, I believe such plagiarism is a common practice
2. Yes. If she had explicitly stated the sources of the paragraphs or phrases, she should have been forgiven.
3. Yes, I believe she should be allowed to reapply for the program.
Ethics is an essential part of scientific research, and the layout rules have to be followed to the letter for an efficient research and scientific misconduct system to function.
D’Angelo, John. Ethics In Science. Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis, 2012. Print.
Judson, Horace Freeland. The Great Betrayal. Orlando: Harcourt, 2004. Print.
Lock, Stephen, F. O Wells, and M. J. G Farthing. Fraud And Misconduct In Biomedical Research. London: BMJ Books, 2001. Print.
Recker, Jan. Scientific Research In Information Systems. Berlin: Springer, 2013. Print.
Xin, H. ‘SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT: Scandals Shake Chinese Science’. Science 312.5779 (2006): 1464-1466. Web.