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[Research misconduct: Knowledge, actions and attitudes of PhD candidates]

OPEN Tidsskrift for den Norske lægeforening : tidsskrift for praktisk medicin, ny række | 1 Oct 2016

B Hofmann and S Holm
BACKGROUND Increasing attention is being paid to research misconduct in academic journals and in the media, but we know relatively little about its extent or attitudes to research misconduct, or how these are changing. This study therefore aims to investigate PhD candidates' knowledge, own actions and attitudes to specific forms of research misconduct.MATERIAL AND METHOD In autumn 2015, an anonymous questionnaire survey was distributed to all participants in the introductory course for PhD candidates at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Oslo.RESULTS Altogether 77 PhD candidates (79 %) responded to the questionnaire. A total of 62 % conducted clinical research and 25 % conducted basic research. Around one in four had heard about serious forms of research misconduct in the previous year, and around 4 % were aware of various forms of serious research misconduct in their own department in the previous year. Compared to earlier studies, an increasing number (16 %) responded that they had been subjected to unethical pressure with regard to inclusion or order of authors. Approximately two-thirds were uncertain of whether their department had written policies for academic conduct. One-third of PhD candidates did not disassociate themselves from actions that are generally viewed as scientific misconduct. One-tenth thought it acceptable to falsify or fabricate data in order to expedite publication, one-fifth did not object to taking the credit for others' ideas, and almost half did not believe it was wrong to attempt a number of methods of analysis until one arrived at a significant answer.INTERPRETATION PhD candidates at the Faculty of Medicine were aware of research misconduct, both generally and from their own department. They themselves reported some type of scientific misconduct, and a large majority were uncertain of their department’s guidelines. Some of the candidates also accepted several forms of research misconduct.
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Academic publishing, Plagiarism, Research, Epistemology, Medicine, Scientific misconduct, Science, Scientific method
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