Daily Archives: May 10, 2011

Scientific Misconduct Starts Young?

Scientific Misconduct Starts Early by Julie Manoharan

“They found that 65% of respondents had falsified data, 20% had altered their hypothesis after finishing their study, and 33% had abused the scientific method in some other way.”

First off, I think this study by the two students in Kentucky for their science fair project was an ingenious idea. (I especially like the teacher’s first thought was that the two were just trying to get out of working on a research project.) One of the young men said he has been aware of questionable science practices and heavy doses of parental guidance in the science fairs since he was in sixth grade. The ingenuity and daring in the design of their survey project is to be admired almost as much as an alarm raised to their findings.

Scientific misconduct is becoming a MAJOR league problem in science. The pressure and desire to break the next big thing often overshadows ethical science behavior. This is unfortunate and this is wrong. As the public begins to trust the power of science more and more, we, as scientist, can’t allow the temptation for misconduct to risk that public trust. Ethics is as important as experimental design. Ethics is as vital to science as the scientific method itself. Patience, perseverance and solid data are keys to pushing science forward in the long term. And from the results of this survey, we need to start teaching and re-enforcing scientific ethics early on. We need to educate parents, students and teachers that the ends do not justify the means in science.

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