Ethics. Honesty. Trust. All of these are words that are imperative to the completion of research. Sadly, however, many do not follow these traits for a variety of reasons. Why do people steer away from ethical conduct? What is the motivation behind ethical breaches?
Violation of ethical standards can take many, including but not limited to: fabricating, falsifying, and plagiarizing data, not giving credit for the intellectual property of others, and by not following guidelines that protect both human and animal study subjects. Unfortunately, there are motives for all of these violations. There is a lot of pressure on researchers to publish their work, become well-known within their respective niches, and secure funding for current and future projects.
Competition with another lab may entice someone to steal ideas while reviewing an article for publication. Wanting to publish many articles within a short period of time may encourage the same figure to be used repeatedly. The pressure to get tenure may push people to fabricate data in order to create the “best” story possible in order to get into the “best” journal possible.
Morals alone do not prevent ethical breaches, neither does guilt. Since morals and guilt may not be enough to prevent the violation of ethical standards in research, scientists should fear the risk of discovery. Once caught fabricating, falsifying, or plagiarizing, it is highly unlikely that a scientist’s name will be looked upon in a positive way. Others will not want to work with or hire scientists suspected or convicted of misconduct. All previous, current, and future research will be scrutinized.
Bottom line, don’t make-up results. Don’t plagiarize others’ work.