OBJECTIVES: To study and describe how a group of senior researchers and a group of postgraduate students perceived the so-called "grey zone" between normal scientific practice and obvious misconduct. DESIGN: A questionnaire concerning various practices including dishonesty and obvious misconduct. The answers were obtained by means of a visual analogue scale (VAS). The central (two quarters) of the VAS were designated as a grey zone. SETTING: A Swedish medical faculty. SURVEY SAMPLE: 30 senior researchers and 30 postgraduate students. RESULTS: Twenty of the senior researchers and 25 of the postgraduate students answered the questionnaire. In five cases out of 14 the senior researchers' median was found to be clearly within the interval of the grey zone, compared with three cases for the postgraduate students. Three examples of experienced misconduct were provided. Compared with postgraduate students, established researchers do not call for more research ethical guidelines and restrictions. CONCLUSION: Although the results indicate that consensus exists regarding certain obvious types of misconduct the response pattern also indicates that there is no general consensus on several procedures.
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