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Exploring the Gray Area: Similarities and Differences in Questionable Research Practices (QRPs) Across Main Areas of Research

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This paper explores the gray area of questionable research practices (QRPs) between responsible conduct of research (RCR) and severe research misconduct in the form of fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism (FFP) (Steneck 2006). Up until now, we have had very little knowledge of disciplinary similarities and differences in QRPs. The paper is the first systematic account of variances and similarities. It reports on the findings of a comprehensive study comprising 22 focus groups on practices and perceptions of QRPs across main areas of research. The paper supports the relevance of the idea of epistemic cultures (Knorr Cetina 1999), also when it comes to QRPs. It shows which QRPs researchers from different areas of research (humanities, social sciences, medical sciences, natural sciences, and technical sciences) report as the most severe and prevalent within their fields. Furthermore, it shows where in the research process these self-reported QRPs can be found. This is done by using a five-phase analytical model of the research process (idea generation, research design, data collection, data analysis, scientific publication and reporting). The paper shows that QRPs are closely connected to the distinct research practices within the different areas of research. Many QRPs can therefore only be found within one area of research, and QRPs that cut across main areas often cover relatively different practices. In a few cases, QRPs in one area are considered good research practice in another.
Original languageEnglish
Article number40
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

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