A new perspective on scientific misconduct

Edward J. Hackett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The level of social concern about any form of deviance reveals much about the society that disapproves of the behavior. In that light, why has scientific misconduct recently received so much public attention and opprobrium? Inquiring into this and related areas raises questions about the changing relationship between science and society. Rising concern about scientific misconduct may indicate that the state and other powerful actors see the value of science clearly, a perception perhaps intensified by a growing reliance upon science, the value of science as a resource for power, and the resulting desire of powerful social groups to control science. An important factor is the increased importance science has acquired within organizations (such as universities and businesses), requiring scientists to engage in more intense interactions with the professionals who work there, including lawyers, accountants, public relations specialists, and administrators. In itself, this tighter coupling of science to other social and organizational purposes would be expected to increase scrutiny and the likelihood of interventions. Also, this more frequent contact makes competition for dominance between professions more likely. Policies might be devised to renegotiate the relationship between science and society in a way that might alleviate the “pathogenic pressures” in the present environment. Specifically, the author suggests eight changes, including reducing and redistributing the financial rewards immediately available to scientists, their companies, and their universities by installing a form of “escrow” account to hold profits for a fixed period of time; decoupling graduate student and postdoctoral support from research grants; and resisting the trend to replace intrinsic rewards and controls with extrinsic ones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S72-S76
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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