The article on Integrity in Research (Steneck, 2006) was very interesting in that it dealt with a lot of my concerns, which I had voiced in earlier critiques. As someone who is new to the research community, understanding the implications and responsibilities of being a researcher is pretty overwhelming. As a mere student, all one has to do is deal with education, while occasionally wondering where what they’re learning will be applied. These are just passing thoughts, however, until homework and assignments take precedence over every single other thought. When he/she graduates (literally!) into a working professional, most often than not, their understanding of their individual responsibility is limited to completing assigned tasks on time. But as a researcher, there are no confining boundaries to limit tasks, there is no time limit for the entire study, there is no restricted syllabus or text books for aid and well, are no exams to test knowledge! This presents a researcher with intimidating levels of freedom and thus enormous scope for error.
Honestly, when I started working on a paper, I wasn’t aware of the fact that there were standard ways to cite articles. While I knew the meaning of the word plagiarism, I wasn’t aware of all that it entails – I did not know that reproducing a figure from an article or anywhere on the net needs reference. However, I am learning as I go and I now understand that if I make a mistake somewhere, I cannot brush it off saying “I did not know” or “I didn’t mean to”. I need to be more aware by asking questions to more knowledgeable people, whenever necessary.
If as a novice researcher this is my view, I fail to understand how people of the ranks of Lynette Stokes could resort to FFPs without the faintest bit of remorse. It is a shame to note the bold “PhDs” that adorn their name as suffixes and the oaths they have sworn in to. It is almost as though they believe that these oaths are mere promises that are meant to be broken. As bothersome as it is that the perpetrators of the D.C lead case have failed their collective professional duties, I cannot fathom how they live with themselves as humans (with a conscience). Ultimately sometime, it would be interesting to know the reasoning behind their actions – were they trying to exhibit paternalism (Gostin, 2010), i.e, curbing paranoia amongst the public or plain purposeful ignorance of facts to make sure they come out looking clean? I really wish we get to know, though it wouldn’t change anything as the damage has already been done.