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      Research practices and assessment of research misconduct

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          This article discusses the responsible conduct of research, questionable research practices, and research misconduct. Responsible conduct of research is often defined in terms of a set of abstract, normative principles, professional standards, and ethics in doing research. In order to accommodate the normative principles of scientific research, the professional standards, and a researcher’s moral principles, transparent research practices can serve as a framework for responsible conduct of research. We suggest a “prune-and-add” project structure to enhance transparency and, by extension, responsible conduct of research. Questionable research practices are defined as practices that are detrimental to the research process. The prevalence of questionable research practices remains largely unknown, and reproducibility of findings has been shown to be problematic. Questionable practices are discouraged by transparent practices because practices that arise from them will become more apparent to scientific peers. Most effective might be preregistrations of research design, hypotheses, and analyses, which reduce particularism of results by providing an a priori research scheme. Research misconduct has been defined as fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism (FFP), which is clearly the worst type of research practice. Despite it being clearly wrong, it can be approached from a scientific and legal perspective. The legal perspective sees research misconduct as a form of white-collar crime. The scientific perspective seeks to answer the following question: “Were results invalidated because of the misconduct?” We review how misconduct is typically detected, how its detection can be improved, and how prevalent it might be. Institutions could facilitate detection of data fabrication and falsification by implementing data auditing. Nonetheless, the effect of misconduct is pervasive: many retracted articles are still cited after the retraction has been issued.

          Main points
          1. Researchers systematically evaluate their own conduct as more responsible than colleagues, but not as responsible as they would like.

          2. Transparent practices, facilitated by the Open Science Framework, help embody scientific norms that promote responsible conduct.

          3. Questionable research practices harm the research process and work counter to the generally accepted scientific norms, but are hard to detect.

          4. Research misconduct requires active scrutiny of the research community because editors and peer-reviewers do not pay adequate attention to detecting this. Tips are given on how to improve your detection of potential problems.

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          Most cited references 78

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          Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct.

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            An Agenda for Purely Confirmatory Research.

            The veracity of substantive research claims hinges on the way experimental data are collected and analyzed. In this article, we discuss an uncomfortable fact that threatens the core of psychology's academic enterprise: almost without exception, psychologists do not commit themselves to a method of data analysis before they see the actual data. It then becomes tempting to fine tune the analysis to the data in order to obtain a desired result-a procedure that invalidates the interpretation of the common statistical tests. The extent of the fine tuning varies widely across experiments and experimenters but is almost impossible for reviewers and readers to gauge. To remedy the situation, we propose that researchers preregister their studies and indicate in advance the analyses they intend to conduct. Only these analyses deserve the label "confirmatory," and only for these analyses are the common statistical tests valid. Other analyses can be carried out but these should be labeled "exploratory." We illustrate our proposal with a confirmatory replication attempt of a study on extrasensory perception.
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              The poor availability of psychological research data for reanalysis.


                Author and article information

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                ScienceOpen Research
                02 August 2016
                : 0 (ID: 6a65b331-972c-49f6-94ac-8f8c732658ec )
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                Department of Methodology and Statistics, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author’s e-mail address: c.h.j.hartgerink@ 123456tilburguniversity.edu
                © 2016 Hartgerink and Wicherts

                This work has been published open access under Creative Commons Attribution License CC BY 4.0 , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Conditions, terms of use and publishing policy can be found at www.scienceopen.com .

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                Figures: 0, Tables: 3, References: 80, Pages: 10
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