Virtual Research Integrity

Virtual Research Integrity

Carla J. Thompson (University of West Florida, USA) and Byron Havard (University of West Florida, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch649
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As the world becomes increasingly focused on virtual communications and as global researchers increase their use of virtual environments for conducting research, collecting data, analyzing data, and disseminating, publishing research findings, the need for acute attention to the integrity of their research efforts and the protection of human subjects is imminent. This article focuses on the issue of integrity and ethics associated with the use of virtual environments in conducting social science research, that is, research involving human subjects. The United States Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has clearly delineated Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) principles for researchers (Steneck, 2007). Likewise, countries around the world have adopted clearly defined responsible research practices and identified international research integrity principles (NSF, 2012) and scholarly integrity concerns such as plagiarism, data fabrication, and falsification of records (Office of Science and Technology Policy, 2005). The increasing use of the Internet and virtual environments within international research partnership projects and the increasing globalization of science and social science research efforts have prompted the need for examining issues, risks, and challenges associated with Virtual Research Integrity (VRI) within a global context. The focus of this article includes three objectives relative to the topic of Virtual Research Integrity: (1) Define and examine the concept of virtual research integrity relative to U. S. and global considerations of research principles within responsible conduct, research misconduct and ethics issues, data integrity issues, literature reviews, and dissemination and publication of research findings; (2) Describe the implications of virtual research integrity for researchers, including appropriate behaviors, actions, and considerations for conducting virtual research projects; and (3) Provide insight into future perspectives for future virtual researchers regarding the development and integration of future technologies, future research topics and practices, future global research efforts, and future researchers within a virtual world.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cloud Computing: Defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as a model for enabling convenient, on:demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction (Alali & Chia:Lun, 2012 AU36: The in-text citation "Lun, 2012" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Semantic Web: The framework that allows data to be shared and reused across all applications, enterprises, and community boundaries, where computers are used to extract and interpret rather than post and render information for users (Pileggi, Fernandez:Llatas, Traver, 2012 AU37: The in-text citation "Llatas, Traver, 2012" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

Social media: Internet:based applications and services that enable user:centric, collaborative knowledge sharing, and community:building activities ( Pierson, 2012 ).

Web Mining: The set of techniques used to extract existing content, structure, and usage data from the Internet based on human understandable information and machine understandable semantics ( Sivakumar & Ravichandran, 2013 ).

Viral Sampling: The exponential participation rate that occurs when a trusted member of a study population deems research study participation important or interesting and shares this with the population without the researcher first identifying and contacting members of the study population ( Palys & Atchison, 2012 ).

Plagiarism: The use of information, literature, research findings, or scholarly products without the appropriate citations or credit provided for the source of the information ( Council of Writing Program Administrators, 2003 ).

Research Misconduct: Research fabrication of data, falsification of information or records, or plagiarism in developing, conducting, reviewing, reporting, or disseminating research results ( Steneck, 2007 ).

Virtual Data Integrity (VDI): The use of computers and/or Internet for collecting, organizing, analyzing, transferring, validating, or reporting data with honesty, accuracy, and objectivity only by those with authorized access and with an awareness of attention to the protection of the rights of human subjects ( Rouse, 2005 ).

Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR): The set of principles developed by the U. S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) for the purpose of outlining ethical behavior for researchers in conducting research ( Steneck, 2007 ).

Virtual Research Integrity (VRI): The use of computers and/or Internet for conducting research with honesty, accuracy, objectivity, and attention to the protection of human subjects ( Steneck, 2007 ; Malakoff, 2012 ).

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