Moreover, the researcher who falsifies the data is prone to legal action as has been the case in the past when researchers have falsified research results (Normile C, 2006). Therefore, in order to deal with this grave issue, it is important to ensure that the data being incorporated in the research paper has been properly handled and it is being reported correct. Ensuring this would satisfy the ethical standards of scientific research to a very high extent, as there would then be no repercussions for the author of the research paper (CA & GL, 2000).
Mistakes and Negligence
Each research study is susceptible to error. The errors in scientific research are either caused by mistake or negligence. There are various factors that contribute to these mistakes during the research process. The prime reason being that the researchers are basically humans. They are bound by limitations such as limited resources and time-frame. There are also areas in the research where human judgment needs to be exercised. Any researcher can be guilty of making a mistake in the manner in which they record and interpret data, designing of the experiment, and the control of the conditions in which the experiment is to be conducted, which eventually can affect how the results are interpreted (Goldberg, 2008) . In certain circumstances where there contradictory evidences and observations involved, it is difficult, and downright confusing to identify and collect a reliable group of data. Sometimes it is often the case that the parameters of the research are not well-defined. The question being investigated may not be so clear, and may present further ambiguity regarding the research.
Other than the honest mistakes to which any human researcher may be prone to, errors in scientific research are caused by negligence. Negligence is whereby due to an intentional act of carelessness of the researcher, the results of a scientific research are susceptible to errors. Any number of faults on part of the researcher can lead to scientific standards not being met while conducting the research study. Such errors that result from negligence can cause damage to not only the reputation of the individual researcher and his/her colleagues but also on the wider society that places reliance on scientific results. Hence, when conducting any part of the research process hastily, it should be kept in mind the risk at which the researcher is placing himself/herself and the entire research team along with the results of their scientific study.
In order to avoid any such circumstances that may compromise the integrity of a scientific research study, there have been scientific ethical principles and disciplines developed which guide researchers in their manner of behavior and conduct during the research process. This is because the researchers not only have an obligation towards their profession, but also toward the public that places their reliance on their work. Thus, by following the relevant ethical standards developed, researchers can reduce to a bare minimum the possibility of the occurrence of errors. Each detail of the experiment and results needs to be planned, prepared and executed meticulously. It is also advised that each research study goes through a peer review process before its publication. It is considered a violation of the scientific and ethical standards not to observe the relevant prescribed ethical practices.
When there have been errors made in the research process, whether by mistake or as a result of negligence, there must be steps taken in order to control the damage that they may inflict. If the errors are discovered after the research and its results are published, then it should be corrected in a note. If there hasn't been a publication as yet, then an error discovered early on can be amending in the subsequent work that takes place in the research process. However, care must be taken that the rectification of the error is such that the integrity of the information and data is not compromised and remains true to its original form.
Working with a Mentor
Mentors play a fundamental role in the professional development of the next generation of scientists by contributing positively towards an improvement of the student's effectiveness, competence and confidence (Gutierrez, 2012). They assume the responsibility of instigating in their students and trainees professional values and ethical standards. Students and trainees adopt the ethical standards and values that their mentor posses, and via interaction, learn the standards which are expected and acceptable in the scientific world of research. Ethical issues are often embedded within the relationship between a mentor and a student. Such ethical issues aid the student or the trainee to determine ethical situations that may come up, in a manner that their mentor would seek to resolve it. Moreover, such situations aid in the understanding of the ethical values of the student and trainees as well, and helps them develop the approach toward research they will adopt in their later work as well as when they become mentors.
A mentor can be anyone that has experience in the field of scientific research and of the challenges that a student may face when he or she is conducting their research. The mentor should be able to communicate their experience to the student or trainee, and take an interest in the developing and furthering their professional career. Over the duration of the research, the mentor shall behave not only as a teacher to the student / trainee but also an advisor, friend and role model. Hence, the role of a mentor is quite significant but can be discharged by anyone that posses the necessary qualities mentioned. (Bird, 2001)
One of the foremost responsibilities of a mentor is to instruct and assist the student or trainee in understanding the code of conduct relevant to his or her profession. In the case of scientific research, the mentors can act as counselors that prompt on each action and ethical situation that may arise, and help the student to identify and tackle such situations on their own terms, remaining within the prescribed guidelines of the scientific standards. If the research is being conducted in a group, the mentor can gain an idea of how their student thinks by having a free-flowing discussion regarding ethical situations, which can aid him in understanding the student's mentality, and then lead to them being able to communicate better with that particular student or trainee.
However, the relationship of a mentor and trainee/student is delicate, and can be subjected to abuse and exploitation as a result of an imbalance in power. The scales often tip toward the mentor who has an upper-hand on the trainee in terms of knowledge, experience, usually status, and more importantly, authority. A trainee cannot afford to jeopardize his/her relationship with the mentor as he/she has so much to gain from their experience and support. This fear leads to the trainee often being on the short-hand of the bargain. Thus, the mentor can use this advantage to get favors from trainees. The favors may include joining and helping the mentor's research instead, doing them personal or sexual favors, and denying the trainee credit where due. Moreover, if a mentor is threatened by the success of their trainee, they may undermine their confidence and give them not-so-friendly and even career-implicating advice. There may be the case where a trainee is simply ignored. Such situations are dubbed as Toxic Mentoring whereby the mentor acts as a hazard for a trainee rather than a guide and helper (Allen, 2007).
The main responsibility of a mentor is to be available when required by his or her trainee in order to assist them in their dilemma regarding their research. They should behave in line with the code of conduct defined by scientific ethical standards and discharge any social responsibility that comes their way. They should not only teach by words but also by their own example by personifying the ethical standards expected by relevant scientific bodies. They shouldn't allow the differences in personalities, thought, color or anything influence the mentor-student relationship capacity. Not only that, but each responsible mentor should continue their professional development as a mentor, seeking effective manners of teaching and leading, as mentoring is a route to enhance a teacher's skills and improving their qualifications (Grace Onchwari, 2008).
On the other hand, a student or a trainee is responsible of seeking out a mentor who embodies such qualities, and would lead him/her not only to success in their career but also teach them to abide by the rules of the game. They should make it clear to the mentor, after contemplating on it thoroughly, of what they seek out from the mentor-trainee relationship and communicate that to the mentor.
The Institutional Review Process conducted by the North central University for PhD dissertation thesis, following the ethical guidelines laid down by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects in Biomedical and Behavioral Research entitled the Belmont Report:…