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The Gray Zone : Questionable Research Practices in the Business School

Butler, Nick ; Delaney, Helen and Spoelstra, Sverre LU (2017) In Academy of Management Learning and Education 16(1). p.94-109
Abstract
In recent years, the awareness of academic misconduct has increased due to high-profile scandals involving prominent researchers and a spike in journal retractions. But such examples of fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism (FFP) serve to obscure the less flagrant, more subtle cases of possible misconduct: what some have called “questionable research practices” (QRPs). Where FFP is seen as inherently negative, QRPs fall into an ethical “gray zone” between permissible and impermissible. We draw on semistructured interviews with business school scholars to explore the occurrence of QRPs. Prevalent QRPs include playing with numbers, playing with models, and playing with hypotheses. Scholars explain the existence of QRPs in three ways:... (More)
In recent years, the awareness of academic misconduct has increased due to high-profile scandals involving prominent researchers and a spike in journal retractions. But such examples of fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism (FFP) serve to obscure the less flagrant, more subtle cases of possible misconduct: what some have called “questionable research practices” (QRPs). Where FFP is seen as inherently negative, QRPs fall into an ethical “gray zone” between permissible and impermissible. We draw on semistructured interviews with business school scholars to explore the occurrence of QRPs. Prevalent QRPs include playing with numbers, playing with models, and playing with hypotheses. Scholars explain the existence of QRPs in three ways: the inadequate training of researchers, the pressures and incentives to publish in certain outlets, and the demands and expectations of journal editors and reviewers. We argue that a paradox is at work here: To live up to the positivist image of “pure science” that appears in academic journals, researchers may find themselves—ironically—transgressing this very ideal. Ultimately, this challenges the individualistic account of academic misconduct by drawing attention to the role played by institutional actors, such as academic journals, in encouraging forms of QRPs. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
questionable research practices, academic misconduct, business school research, positivist science
in
Academy of Management Learning and Education
volume
16
issue
1
pages
16 pages
publisher
Academy of Management
external identifiers
  • scopus:85018527873
  • wos:000398905600007
ISSN
1537-260X
DOI
10.5465/amle.2015.0201
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
6455a62b-8171-4780-b20d-a55656fccb9a
date added to LUP
2017-04-24 14:23:23
date last changed
2017-09-18 13:33:05
@article{6455a62b-8171-4780-b20d-a55656fccb9a,
  abstract     = {In recent years, the awareness of academic misconduct has increased due to high-profile scandals involving prominent researchers and a spike in journal retractions. But such examples of fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism (FFP) serve to obscure the less flagrant, more subtle cases of possible misconduct: what some have called “questionable research practices” (QRPs). Where FFP is seen as inherently negative, QRPs fall into an ethical “gray zone” between permissible and impermissible. We draw on semistructured interviews with business school scholars to explore the occurrence of QRPs. Prevalent QRPs include playing with numbers, playing with models, and playing with hypotheses. Scholars explain the existence of QRPs in three ways: the inadequate training of researchers, the pressures and incentives to publish in certain outlets, and the demands and expectations of journal editors and reviewers. We argue that a paradox is at work here: To live up to the positivist image of “pure science” that appears in academic journals, researchers may find themselves—ironically—transgressing this very ideal. Ultimately, this challenges the individualistic account of academic misconduct by drawing attention to the role played by institutional actors, such as academic journals, in encouraging forms of QRPs.},
  author       = {Butler, Nick  and Delaney, Helen  and Spoelstra, Sverre},
  issn         = {1537-260X},
  keyword      = {questionable research practices,academic misconduct,business school research,positivist science},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {94--109},
  publisher    = {Academy of Management},
  series       = {Academy of Management Learning and Education},
  title        = {The Gray Zone : Questionable Research Practices in the Business School},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amle.2015.0201},
  volume       = {16},
  year         = {2017},
}