‘I should do what?’ Addressing research misconduct through values alignment

Chatfield, Kate orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-8109-0535 and Law, Emma (2024) ‘I should do what?’ Addressing research misconduct through values alignment. Research Ethics . ISSN 1747-0161

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/17470161231224481


Evidence suggests that the incidence of research misconduct is not in decline despite efforts to improve awareness, education and governance mechanisms. Two responses to this problem are favoured: first, the promotion of an agent-centred ethics approach to enhance researchers’ personal responsibility and accountability, and second, a change in research culture to relieve perceived pressures to engage in misconduct. This article discusses the challenges for both responses and explains how normative coherence through values alignment might assist. We argue that research integrity and research ethics convey mixed messages, which are likely to contribute to a form of normative confusion. For the successful adoption of an agent-centred approach, normative coherence is needed between the two. To facilitate normative coherence, we propose that research ethics and research integrity be underpinned by a shared set of moral values that can be enacted via codes and guidelines and imbue research environments. Furthermore, to facilitate culture change, the same normative coherence is necessary at all levels of an institution. Only via values alignment between institutional aims, management, institutional practices and researchers can an ethical culture become truly embedded in research institutions.

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