Faculty Publications

Document Type


Journal/Book/Conference Title Title

2015 Association for Practical and Professional Ethics Annual International Conference, Costa Mesa, CA.


Studies have shown that serious misconduct in academic research (e.g., data fabrication) is uncommon, whereas questionable research practices (e.g., courtesy authorship) occur on a fairly regular basis (Fanelli, 2009; John, Lowenstein, & Prelec, 2012). Yet limited research has been undertaken to understand why researchers engage in these behaviors (Martinson, Anderson, Crain, & DeVries, 2006; Mumford, Connelly, Murphy, Devenport, Antes, Brown, et al., 2009), in spite of the critical attention that misconduct cases bring from scientists, policymakers, and the public. As in other areas of human endeavor, understanding the complex causes of misbehavior is critical in formulating appropriate prevention structures or remedies.

This study was designed to explore the influences that drive faculty investigators when making the challenging ethical decisions that arise in the course of their research activities. Researchers were invited to share their perceptions of what they would do in certain circumstances, including those that involve high pressure (e.g., when evaluation for tenure is looming and publications are needed to ensure success). Other factors, such as the role of perceptions of organizational justice and external funding expectations, were also explored. In this study, for the first time, masters/comprehensive universities were targeted to allow comparisons with research-intensive institutions on possible differences in research cultures and environments.

The study focuses on four disciplinary fields: biology, psychology, sociology, and social work, the latter of whom have not previously been studied in regard to ethics in research. During the full phase of the survey, social work and sociology faculty will be over-sampled, as will faculty from the masters universities, to allow a more refined analysis of both individual and environmental factors that may drive questionable research behaviors.


Department of Social Work


Center for Academic Ethics


Poster presentation given at the 2015 Association for Practical and Professional Ethics Annual International Conference, Costa Mesa, CA.

Original Publication Date



UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa


©2015 Anita M. Gordon and Helen C. Harton



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