Folklore, fad, and fashion: The concept of misconduct in science redefined

Sarah Palmer vonRosenberg, The University of Texas School of Public Health


This study is an analytical investigation of the nature and implications of the current conceptions of scientific misconduct, arguing that the question of what constitutes misconduct in science is significantly more complex than what conventionally has been believed. Complicating the definitions of misconduct are the differences between professional science and non-scientific professions, in their respective norms of what constitutes valid knowledge, and what counts as appropriate and inappropriate practice. While institutionalized science claims that there is clear differentiation between its standards of validity and those of the non-scientific professions, this paper argues that, when it comes to misconduct, the perceived boundaries between the scientific and non-scientific professions are breached; the practice standards that science currently employs in self-policing misconduct have come to resemble the minimal juridical standards of practice that other professions employ. This study attempts, despite erosion of these traditional boundaries, to move from legalistic standards of scientific practice to intramural standards of practice, and in so doing, to hold scientific practice to a higher standard than ordinary public conduct. The result is a clearer understanding of scientific misconduct to aid those individual scientists who are required to make onerous determinations about the appropriateness of specific practices by their peers.

Subject Area

Public administration

Recommended Citation

vonRosenberg, Sarah Palmer, "Folklore, fad, and fashion: The concept of misconduct in science redefined" (1996). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9700056.