Publication Integrity & Ethics (PIE) was developed over a decade ago to address several areas of concern and promote real editorial freedom.Read more.
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The scientific and medical research is based mainly on trust. While scientists trust that results reported by third party are valid, participants to trials trust that scientists have their best interests in mind when conducting the research; society trusts in the results given by the scientists, hoping they are not biased or influenced by economic or political factors.
Trust can be obtained only if the scientific community acts according to the highest ethical principles. These fundamental research ethics are stated in the Declaration of Helsinki, a code of ethical conduct that states the main and basic principles of research ethics with which all scientists and medical researchers must comply.
Given the importance of research ethics, it is quite obvious why most of the professional associations have developed their own codes of conduct.
The most important issues and ethical principles these codes address are as follows:
Honesty: this is one of the most important ethical principles in any scientific communications and research. Each individual involved in the process must report data, results, procedures and methods honestly and not fabricate or misrepresent the results of the research. Of course, they should refrain from deceiving their colleagues, the public or the granting organisations.
Objectivity: scientific and medical researchers should avoid biased decisions and conclusions whether they are analysing, interpreting or reviewing their data. They must disclose any material, personal or financial interest that may affect research study in one way or another.
Integrity and openness: researchers must be consistent with thought and action, keep their promises and agreements and act with sincerity, according to the moral principles of their jobs. They should also share their findings, important data, resources and tools with other participants, be open to new ideas and constructive criticism.
Carefulness: scientific and medical researchers should avoid being negligent, make careless errors and poor examination of data. They should keep written and/or digital records of their research related activities and the correspondence with other researchers and journals.
Respect for intellectual property: researchers should honour any form of intellectual property as they expect others to honour theirs. They should give credit and proper acknowledgment to other editors, authors and researchers who contributed to the research or who they cite along the way. They should not plagiarise the work of others and when citations are needed, they must be marked as such.
Confidentiality: unless there are exceptions from the duty of confidentiality, researchers, authors and editors have the duty to protect sensitive or personal information. They should also comply with the confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements they have signed and protect the data.
Social responsibility and respect: researchers have a moral duty to give respect to their colleagues and the participants of the trials and to treat them equally and fairly. They should also prevent social harms through research and promote instead social goodness and public education. They must avoid discrimination against students, colleagues and other research participants on the basis of any factor that is not related to their scientific research or competence such as gender, ethnicity, colour, disability, race…and others.