At present, the concept of integrity is used in diverse contexts and is frequently considered to be a moral trait. Moreover, it is often used as a synonym of “honesty.” Nevertheless, this concept is more complex and needs a careful and thoughtful definition. Thus, what is integrity and how can it be proved that an individual possesses this trait? Among a diversity of definitions applicable to different spheres of activity, integrity is most frequently discussed related to professional codes of ethics and academic research as a necessary trait of a scholar.
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To have an idea of a concept, a dictionary can be consulted. Thus, Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides three definitions of integrity. First of all, it is “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values” (“Integrity”). In this meaning, the notion of integrity is usually used figuratively. Two other definitions are “an impaired condition” and “the quality or state of being complete or undivided.” Also, the dictionary provides synonyms of integrity and includes such concepts as decency, honesty, goodness, morality, righteousness, virtue, etc. (“Integrity”). Moreover, the notion of integrity is related to such ideas as honor, incorruptibility, scrupulosity, appropriateness, ethics, and morals. Therefore, it can be concluded that integrity can have slightly different meanings depending on the context in which the term is used.
While the concept of integrity can be applied in different spheres, it is most frequently discussed in the field of academic activity and ethics of research. In fact, integrity is a compulsory component of many professional codes when it goes to research ethics. Komić et al. (1) define professional codes as “social contracts among members of a professional group, which aim to instigate, encourage and nurture ethical behavior and prevent professional misconduct, including research and publication.” Consequently, integrity as a component of professional ethics is one of the primary concerns of researchers.
The academic sphere comprises the notion of research integrity, which is one of the research responsible conduct aspects. In fact, it is a desirable “perfect” behavior in research that is opposed to deliberate academic misconduct. The worst manifestations of such misconduct are fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism (Komić et al. 1). Probably, plagiarism is one of the most frequent cases of academic misconduct that violates research integrity. It is defined as “the inappropriate use of previously published information without attribution and with representation that the work is original” (Buckwalter et al. e2(3)). Moreover, the issue of academic integrity involves the so-called questionable research practices. They are not acceptable among researchers because they disregard traditional values and broadly accepted practices. They usually violate the ways the project is designed, implemented, and published. Questionable research practices comprise such concepts as “inaccuracy, misrepresentation and bias in research and publishing” (Komić et al. 2).
To summarizing, it should be mentioned that integrity is a complex notion and its treatment differs depending on the context and the personal position of an individual. Still, it is most frequently used in academic practice and research being a part of a researcher’s code of ethics. Integrity is more than honesty or simply doing something right. It is a way of life selected by people who prefer to be honest, possess moral commitments, and are eager to act appropriately to a situation. Also, integrity involves dedication to professional standards, adherence to moral and ethical values, both personal and professional, and doing good not only for oneself but for society as well.
Buckwalter, Joseph A. et al. “How Do You Know It Is True? Integrity in Research and Publications”. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery-American Volume, vol. 97, no. 1, 2014, pp. e2(1-8).
“Integrity.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Web.
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Komić, Dubravka et al. “Research Integrity And Research Ethics In Professional Codes Of Ethics: Survey of Terminology Used by Professional Organizations Across Research Disciplines”. PLOS ONE, vol 10, no. 7, 2015, pp. 1-13.