Integrity and Scholarship

I am writing about scholarly integrity as a scientist in training.  I have been training for about 8 years now, and to date have been successful in acquiring two degrees, a federal internship, multiple grants, and published part of my research just this year. I list these things not to brag, but to set a timeline.  The timeline I have in mind, is when I started to take coursework very seriously, as well as when I began to immerse myself in my interests.  The basis of my achievements to date and the achievements that I hope to gain, is in the integrity with which I undertake my studies, research, and publishing.  I do my own work.  I conduct my own research, and credit the scientists before me that worked to create the basic understandings upon which I build.  I do not falsify my credentials, qualifications, or ability.

To do so would begin a web of lies built to maintain a facsimile.  Taking shortcuts, plagiarizing, and falsifying data are unjust actions that produce falsehoods.  These require lies to promote, and for every lie, there must be a series of supporting lies to protect it.

If I were to use the work of scientists past to build the scientifically support assumptions of my research, I would rely on the integrity of their research.  I have.  My master’s research was in forensics, and while my focus area was not, much of this research can have life or death ramifications in a court of law.  If some of the seminal works that I based my research around were false, or inaccurate, the interpretations of the subsequent research could lead to wrongful conviction and perhaps death.  This would be an extreme case but my training has exposed me to cases where shortcuts have been made by expert witnesses in my field that have had drastic legal consequences.  All scholars must enforce integrity to sustain credibility and legitimacy in research and scholarship.  If we do not, then we allow our fields to deteriorate and impact society in the same way.

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