Author: Lex Bouter
Source: Journal of Clinical Epidemiology
Date: April 2018

In their recent commentary, Wallach et al. explain that breaches of research integrity will typically do damage to the reliability and validity of biomedical research [1]. This may harm regulatory and clinical decision-making. Consequently health care and public health may suffer. They point out that prevalent questionable research practices like poor study design, low power and selective reporting probably do substantially more damage than the rare occurrence of the classical “deadly sins” of fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism. Wallach et al. do not dwell much on the causes of the shortcomings listed in their table 1 and take the view that the remedy should come from better guidelines, more transparency, and mandatory training [1].

While I agree with all this, I would like to strengthen the argumentation by first analyzing the replicability crisis and the need for more transparency a bit further. Second, I shall explore what biomedical research can learn about fostering responsible research practices from other disciplines, social sciences first and foremost. Finally, the putative determinants of research misconduct and questionable research practices will be discussed, and the actions different stakeholders can take shall be explored.

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[1] J. Wallach, G. Gonsalves, J. Ross
Research, regulatory and clinical decision-making: the importance of scientific integrity
J Clin Epidemiol, 93 (2018), pp. 88-93