The Role of the Social Sciences in the Analysis of Research Misconduct
The social science perspective has been neglected in legislative hearings and in most formal reports on the topic from scientific associations. The failure to employ social science knowledge does not derive from social scientists' lack of concern about ethics. Social scientists have led the public debate over data privacy and organizations like the American Psychological Association have developed extensive codes of ethics to guide professional practice. The ability to apply social science knowledge to the study of unethical research practices has also been severely inhibited by inaccessibility of primary data and other source material whereby theory can be tested. This situation has often forced social scientists to examine cases of research fraud and misconduct "under glass", lending credence to an image of them as frustrated scientists pressing their noses against the laboratory window but comprehending little of what goes on inside. Responsible social scientists should regard applying that knowledge not as an option but as a social obligation.