Ethical Issues of Concern in the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service
- R. E. Sojka and
- H. W. Moon
Widely publicized occurrences and allegations of fraud and plagiarism in scientific publications have eroded public confidence in the integrity of scientists. They have caused scientists to question the wisdom of our traditional reliance on the honor system and the self-correcting nature of the process. Concerns about such misconduct have also raised questions about the ethical climate in our scientific institutions and how to improve it. One important way institutions establish and maintain their ethical climate is through their publication policies. Although allegations or instances of scientific misconduct in the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) have been few, it is currently reviewing its ethical climate and procedures for dealing with scientific misconduct, reflecting science and society's general concern. In ARS, classification (rank, promotion, and demotion) and annual performance appraisals of research scientists are based largely on accomplishments documented in scientific publications. There is a pervasive trend among scientists both within and outside ARS toward summarizing achievement in terms of numbers of papers published. It is easier to count publications than to objectively assess their quality and impact. Procedures used to assess quality and impact of publications rely heavily on formal peer review of publications during the classification process. Therefore, continued reinforcement is required to keep the focus on quality and impact during review. Manuscripts reporting original research are also peer reviewed within ARS before they are approved by ARS for submission to journals. The ARS is developing a Code of Scientific Ethics to emphasize ethical responsibilities and aspirations relevant to its activities. Procedures for dealing with allegations and instances of data falsification and plagiarism are under review and an ARS directive formally defining the procedures is being developed. It is anticipated that both the code of ethics and the directive for dealing with misconduct in science will be officially adopted by ARS in 1992.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
Copyright © 1992. . Copyright © 1992 Soil Science Society of America, Crop Science Society of America, and American Society of Agronomy, 5585 Guilford Rd., Madison, WI 53711 USA