More training and clear guidelines are favoured as fixes for bad research practices, but a new study suggests that these efforts are wasted if researchers are inherently dishonest.
The study published in BMC Medical Ethics revealed that childhood education and personality traits have a greater influence on how researchers conduct their work than formal training in research integrity.
Research integrity is an ever expanding field
The few empirical articles that examined determinants of misconduct found that problems from the research system (e.g., pressure, competition) were most likely to cause inadequate research practices. Paradoxically, the majority of empirical articles proposing approaches to foster integrity focused on techniques to build researchers’ awareness and compliance rather than techniques to change the research system.
Discussing science fraud, techniques in seminars may even have adverse effect as summarized by Resnik.
While most people would endorse this as a worth-while goal, research has produced little evidence that RCR education actually helps to achieve it … Moreover, some studies have shown that RCR education may be associated with certain of unethical attitudes or misbehaviors.
According to Anderson training in research ethics was positively associated with problematic behavior. Inherently dishonest people remain dishonest.
So if we believe Satalkar, Bonn, Resnik and Anderson – the system has to change with a high entry gate for dishonest people.