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FASEB J. 2014 Sep;28(9):3841-6. doi: 10.1096/fj.13-246603. Epub 2014 Jun 13.

Taking steps to increase the trustworthiness of scientific research.

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Bioethics Program, University of California-Davis, Sacramento, California, USA


To enjoy the public's trust, the research community must first be clear about what it is expected to do and then avoid the incidents that prevent it from meeting those expectations. Among other things, there are expectations that published scientific results will be reliable, that research has the potential to contribute to the common good, and that research will be conducted ethically. Consequently, the scientific community needs to avoid lapses that prevent it from meeting these three expectations. This requires a strong commitment to trustworthy research practices, as well as mechanisms that diminish lapses that inevitably occur in complex endeavors such as scientific research. The author presents a model to assess the strength of commitment to trustworthy research and explores proven quality assurance mechanisms that can diminish lapses in research injurious to the public's trust. Some mechanisms identify in advance ways that things can go wrong so that steps can be taken to prevent them from going wrong in the first place. Other mechanisms investigate past errors or near misses to discover their causes so that they can be addressed to avoid similar future instances. The author explains why such methods are useful to efforts to promote research worthy of the public's trust.


public trust; quality improvement

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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