Shifts in guidelines for ethical scientific conduct: How public and private organizations create and change norms of research integrity

Kathleen Montgomery*, Amalya L. Oliver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

We analyze the activities and actors involved in articulating and diffusing guidelines for ethical scientific conduct from 1975 to the present. We use a theoretical framework of institutional change at the organizational-field level to examine the co-evolution of the structure of the organizational field of 'scientific research' and its institutional logic. Public agencies have long provided funding to US universities to support faculty research, expecting that implicit norms of scientific conduct would guide behavior. Growing publicity about research fraud in the late 1960s and early 1970s triggered a shift from implicit norms to explicit behavioral proscriptions, with strong administrative oversight. As private sources of research funding exert new pressures on research behavior, public-private partnerships are emerging to articulate explicit, yet voluntary prescriptive norms of research integrity. The analysis demonstrates the co-evolution and co-dependence of changes in the identity and strength of influential actors in the field of scientific research and changes in the norms of scientific conduct. We examine how the normative guidelines have been constructed over time, illustrating the persistence of earlier norms as the foundation for current guidelines. We conclude with implications for future research conduct.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)137-155
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Studies of Science
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2009

Keywords

  • Institutional change
  • Organizations
  • Research integrity
  • Scientific misconduct
  • Social norms

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