Purpose To maintain scientific integrity and engender public confidence, research must be conducted responsibly. Whereas deliberate scientific misconduct such as data fabrication is clearly unethical, other behaviors-often referred to as questionable research practices (QRPs)-exploit the ethical shades of gray that color acceptable practice. This study aimed to measure the frequency of self-reported misconduct and QRPs in a diverse, international sample of health professions education (HPE) researchers. Method In 2017, the authors conducted an anonymous, cross-sectional survey study. The web-based survey contained 43 items that asked respondents to rate how often they had engaged in a variety of irresponsible research behaviors. The items were adapted from previously published surveys. Results In total, 590 HPE researchers took the survey. The mean age was 46 years (SD = 11.6), and the majority of participants were from the United States (26.4%), Europe (23.2%), and Canada (15.3%). The three most frequently reported irresponsible research behaviors were adding authors who did not qualify for authorship (60.6%), citing articles that were not read (49.5%), and selectively citing papers to please editors or reviewers (49.4%). Additionally, respondents reported misrepresenting a participant's words (6.7%), plagiarizing (5.5%), inappropriately modifying results (5.3%), deleting data without disclosure (3.4%), and fabricating data (2.4%). Overall, 533 (90.3%) respondents reported at least one irresponsible behavior. Conclusions Notwithstanding the methodological limitations of survey research, these findings indicate that a substantial proportion of HPE researchers report a range of misconduct and QRPs. Consequently, reforms may be needed to improve the conduct of HPE research.
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