A couple of weeks ago I was invited to speak about research integrity (as outlined in Singapore Statement, 2010; Universities UK Concordat, 2012) to a cohort of first-year doctoral researchers in the School of Arts. One message I wanted to get across was that RI is not to throw in some nice, Boy-Scouty words such as honesty and respect, and that it is something very close to our everyday life as a researcher.
Considering the little choices that we make at every turn of a research project, nothing is black and white. There are instead a lot of grey areas with shifting boundaries (or ‘multiple boundaries’ as one of the discussants put it during the seminar), and you will just need to draw a line somewhere – a line that is acceptable in your context but more importantly you are comfortable with.
So, as brain exercises (hence the pun), I presented some hypothetical dilemmas to the participants. I don’t mean dilemmas that are as dramatic as those in the famous Justice lecture series but rather small and mundane ones. I then asked the participants where their lines would be and how they had come to their decisions.
Those exercises generated rich and vibrant discussions in the classroom. I was quite pleased with how the session went, and now I keep having more ideas that I could have used. So I thought I’d build up a list here – for my own resource but perhaps also for anyone looking for essay prompts or something.
- Being ‘economical with the truth‘?
- Misleading visualisation, labels, headlines, and maps
- Outliers and contradictions in the findings
- One’s data at odds with existing theories
- One’s own errors
- Flattery and white lies in access negotiation (see also Holdaway, 1982)
- A token of gratitude versus a bribe
- Ever to intervene in local cultures? (see also Good, 1991)
- Verbatim transcription versus tidied-up transcription (see also Greenwald, 2016)
- Skimming versus quickly looking over (or even pretending to have read) a piece of writing
- Post-fieldwork interactions (see also Sato, 2013; Miller, 2015)
- Accidental plagiarism (Robinson, 2015; see also Melania Trump’s 2016 RNC speech)
- Self-plagiarism and self-citation
- Inputs from your research assistants, translators, and the ‘crowd’
- Co-authorship versus a mention in the acknowledgements (see also Hotz, 2015)
- Academic versus ‘non-academic’ contributions (including the extreme case of Godel)
- Third-party copy-editing
- Apparent ‘orphan works’ on social media
- CV misrepresentations (Wiggins, 2010)
- Peer review when attributed, single-blind or double-blind
- Nominating your own reviewers?
- Differences among ‘accessible’, ‘visible’, ‘public’, and ‘published’ data (via @ananny): e.g. Haugea et al., 2016; Kirkegaard & Bjerrekær, 2016
- Open research and unanticipated use of one’s data and findings (e.g. APAAME cited in Roueché, 2016; Ethics Charter for Near Eastern Archaeology)
- Data protection measures
- Environmental care