Research integrity, in as far as it describes and prescribes a modus operandi for conducting and organising good scientific work, in dependent on a specific understanding of the relationship between scientific work and its product. However, the products of scientific labour are multiple, and debating and discussing their epistemic and ontological status has been the core of the philosophy of science.
In research practice, as it appears before researchers, research integrity takes two forms: first as a series of guidelines or policies externally imposed upon researchers, and second, as a series of internalised norms or understandings of desirable practices. The latter may stem from educational measures, but we may hypothesize that they flow mostly from researchers being actively socialised into practices in which such norms and understandings dominate, through high proximity and active mentoring, for instance. As such the latter operationalisation of research integrity is interwoven with practice much more tightly than the former. The first operationalisation is less tied to practice, and much more to a systems-level understanding of what ideal science looks like. These operationalisations may not overlap all the way, but what they share is that they depend on what researchers or high-level guideline-writing committees understand science to be.
Different philosophical traditions exist to describe science’s relationship with the world it aims to access and describe. Some of those traditions grant science unimpeded access to reality, whereas other argue that science and scientists can only access reality through senses, through computations of impressions or even not at all. This manual does not provide an overview of these traditions – even a summary would be well beyond the limitations posed by this text. Here, we will introduce a few relevant variations across such philosophical traditions and make explicit what type of consequences for research integrity they may have.
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