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The Importance of Integrity in Science

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I was quite shocked after reading how many influential psychologists develop fraudulent results into their published papers. I think one of the largest reasons that I was so shocked is that I hold psychology to such high standards; I want to be a psychologist and I want the field to maintain integrity and detract from all the scrutiny it is already facing. Numerous people scrutinize psychology for unethical practices in the past (or present if you account for the War on Terror psychologists), “mind-reading” (which we obviously can’t do), and being frauds. I do not want to enter into a profession that has this type of reputation from the start. Dirk Semeester and Diederik Stapel are not the only two psychologists who had work that turned out to be fraudulent, but also Marc Hauser of Harvard University fabricated and falsified data on six federally funded studies (JHA, 2012, Carpenter, 2012).

Integrity in science is a moral manner; it presumes an ethical being, self-criticism, and self-discipline (Bossi, 2010). If responsible research practices do not exist, the reputation of the research will be extremely compromised and the understanding of new improvements and the reception of modernizations will be threatened (Bossi, 2010). I believe that a lack of integrity within the field of psychology is the biggest threat today. Without scientific integrity, all past, present, and future information will be tarnished, funding will halt, and the subject and field will decease. There are some factors that are associated with a person who commits scientific misconduct: narcissism, feelings of justification related to the hard work, conviction that one knows the answer to a question in advance, and a distorted sense of reality (Giles, 2007). Also, there are other external factors that could contribute to a person committing scientific misconduct; a career pressure such as “publish or perish”, lack of tutoring, bad work environment, interpersonal conflicts, feelings of being treated unfairly, and the lack of self-criticism (Giles, 2007). With this information on the causes on scientific misconduct, some preventative measures can be put in place for the future. For one, simply counting the number of published works is not an effective or intelligent method of being a researcher; claiming the originality and integrity of the work will be a much greater measures of the benefits contributed from a person (Bossi, 2010). Furthermore, Daniel Kahneman, a noble prize-winner, has urged a group of psychologists to restore the credibility to the field by creating a replication ring to check others’ work (Yong, 2012).

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