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ETHICS, MISCONDUCT AND VIOLATION OF GOOD SCIENTIFIC PRACTICE

Ethics, Misconduct And Violation Of Good Scientific Practice: Research Impact VS Journal Impact Factors - Dharmender Singh

 

While science is an integral part of our society and environment, a definitive and unarguable indicator of progress and development not just limited to biomedical science but in every known dimension that exists in the universe, its defined set of laws though ought to be practiced uniformly, yet across the globe, there is a raging debate on ethics of scientific research and academics on how to “avoid” (using the term because minor violations in scientific practice are bound to happen) misconduct & violations. 

Across scientific communities, we (scientists, corporations, institutions) are mostly governed and judged by adherence to some defined set of rules & codes to differentiate “Good” from “Bad” but with my experience & opinion (may be close to general belief), it is seen that in a scientific community, in the end, judgment is often made by an individual practicing science with one’s own ethical orientation & interpretation of rules off course. 

It is pertinent to mention that we all acquire ethical standards be at home, school, institutions, or in social environment and it’s a continuous process throughout the life. It is important therefore for researchers to learn how they interpret, analyze and apply various ethical rules & norms to make informed decisions and act ethically in all the situations. 

The judgment can be affected by many factors including academic pressure (ex: publishing specific number of papers for obtaining higher academic degrees), extrapolation & exaggeration of results from a particular research paper without recognizing the kind of research one has published (if it’s a new research, new science or not) just for the sake of getting awards and recognition, promotion, all that forms the basis that researchers do take short-cuts for success in quest of scientific research. 

Misuse of ideas (even when occurred during informal discussions also), plagiarism, non-adherence to Good Laboratory Practice, falsification (incomplete research and generalizing the data based on half cooked results), fabrication, fraud, inappropriate authorship (without any consent, without benefit sharing in case of multi-authored paper, without proper citation) is some of the common scientific misconducts which needs to be discussed frequently & loudly at various forums to perform root cause analysis & take corrective and preventive actions.  

Data integrity is another issue and I believe is the key contributor in affecting one’s scientific judgement in the present time. In the absence of any key regulations especially in developing nations for controlling data sharing, its control and protection, it is seen that scientific data (patient data in a research study or published literature) is misused in every sphere of scientific research prompting researchers to eat out on the available platter of data conveniently rather than focusing on quality of research. It’s a fact that researchers do manipulate, exaggerate results of any published study as per their requirements. 

Every research site (hospital, research institution, academic institutions) should have data protection officer, an ethics advisor and safety staff to control data, advise and train scientific personnel on basic principles of good scientific practice and to report any misconduct to an established scientific board to look after such misconducts. Scientific boards should not act like a ghost but must be very vigil and be seen frequently and at every required forum while the research is going on. There must be some sort of government control on these institutions with respect to maintaining standards of good scientific practice. Also, conflict of Interest should be properly addressed in a scientific research. It is often mis-used as per the convenience of the researchers.

While in Europe, there is a strictly implemented General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 to protect data and privacy in European Union. In India on the other hand, after long debates and various legal challenges, Personal Data Protection Bill was introduced in the parliament in 2019 and a law is yet to be passed for its enforcement. This should be expedited. 

“Informed Consent” is a big issue in a scientific research in human beings. It is seen that in many institutions, in the name of taking “informed consent”, a blank paper is asked to be signed by the patient/Legal acceptable representative/impartial witness on behalf of patient participating in a research study without informing the risks and benefits of taking part in research study in detail and in person by the scientists undertaking the study.  

Willingness of a patient to participate in a research study is heavily influenced by the hope to receive a better treatment or in some cases undue influence to take part in a study in the name of compensation for subjects’ participation. This is not an example of Good Scientific Practice. 

Not to limit the importance of adherence to ethics in scientific practice but it’s a bigger responsibility in order to endorse the aim of any research (to pass on the knowledge, calibrated & validated evidence). Research often involves teamwork and collaborative efforts, thus, integrity, fairness, respect, trust, accountability, benefit sharing is expected to achieve a good scientific practice. 

Various ethical norms like guidelines for copyright, patent polices are established worldwide but one’s affected “judgment” due to many factors as mentioned above should not outweigh the importance of application of basic principles & codes of ethics (honesty, respect, integrity, transparency, accountability, confidentiality) in scientific practice. . Then only one can achieve the true purpose of science, innovative research will blossom for the sake of betterment of the human being and surrounding environment.

Note: All the comments & opinion above are purely personal and not copied from anywhere.

About Author :

Dharmender Singh is  a drug regulatory affair professional with over 13 years of industry experience working with various biopharmaceutical companies in India. After completion of his graduation in science from University of Delhi,  he completed master’s in clinical research and was awarded degree from Cranfield University, UK. There after that he worked with companies   like  Max Healthcare Group (Max Neeman Medical International), Syngene International Limited (A Biocon company). Successfully running a proprietorship of his own and working as a channel partner for one of the “Maharatna” companies of Government of India since past three years.                                                                                                                                                                              His hobbies includes writing at the appropriate forums/audience, to advise, suggest and write to the Government of India for the social causes in the society for the refinement of policies to achieve ultimately the goal to make common lives better.                                                                                                                                      Loves travelling and meeting new people with an aim to find a different mindset, not the like ones, yearn to learn new things, always prompt in helping others who are in real need. Firm believer in “Be Kind and humble always”.

Dharmender Singh                                                                                                                                                               Age: 39 years                                                                                                                                                                  Address: House no. 15, street no.2, Garhi Mendu, P.O. Bhajanpura, Delhi-110053                                                   Contact: 8373907777 

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