Research integrity and misconduct: a clarification of the concepts

Curationis. 2006 Mar;29(1):40-5. doi: 10.4102/curationis.v29i1.1042.


The commercialization of research and the ever changing scientific environment has led scholars to shift the focus from promoting research integrity to regulating misconduct. As a result, most literature explains research integrity in terms of avoidance of misconduct. The purpose of the paper is to stimulate reflection and discussion on research integrity and research misconduct. This article explores the meaning of research integrity and research misconduct, and how research integrity can be promoted to ensure safer research and scholarship. We believe that the discussion can help clarify some hazy areas in the research and publication processes, and appreciate some crucial aspects that they may have seen taken for granted. The purpose of this article is to share with the readers some clarification or analysis of the two concepts namely: research integrity and misconduct. The objectives are: (1) To explore and analyse the concepts of research integrity and research misconduct from the educational or developmental perspective and not the legal perspective as others in literature have done. (2) To stimulate the reflection and discussion on strategies to promote research integrity and thus prevent research misconduct Literature review and concept analysis was undertaken to clarify the two concepts. We argue that the two concepts can be viewed along a continuum, i.e. where research integrity ends, research misconduct starts. We also argue that it is the responsibility of the research community at large to always ensure that the scientific ethics balance is maintained throughout the research process to ensure research integrity and avoid research misconduct. We also argue that research integrity is interlinked with morality while misconduct is interlinked with immorality.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Career Mobility
  • Commodification
  • Editorial Policies
  • Ethics, Research* / education
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Mentors
  • Morals
  • Motivation
  • Nursing Research / education
  • Nursing Research / ethics
  • Nursing Research / organization & administration
  • Organizational Culture
  • Periodicals as Topic / ethics
  • Professional Autonomy
  • Professional Competence
  • Publishing / ethics
  • Research Personnel / ethics
  • Research Personnel / psychology
  • Research Support as Topic / ethics
  • Scientific Misconduct / ethics*
  • Scientific Misconduct / psychology
  • Socialization