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Good research conduct
  1. J Grigg
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr J Grigg
    Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine, Division of Child Health, Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University of Leicester, Leicester LE2 7LX, UK;

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A review of clinical research conduct

Good intentions alone are not enough to protect researchers from performing bad clinical research. This review examines areas that are most likely to cause problems, in particular duplicate publication, conflict of interest, authorship, and data storage. It also discusses the way journal editors approach research conduct issues, and how to create a research environment conducive to good research conduct.

The conduct of clinical research is increasingly governed by rules. Some are statutory, and others derive from guidelines drawn up by universities, funding bodies, and editors of medical journals. In the past, the conduct of research was a matter of passive trust between authors and journals, and between “hands on” researchers and their supervisors. In contrast, researchers and research managers must now actively work at maintaining good conduct in research. The UK Medical Research Council has identified the key research virtues as selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, honesty, and leadership:1 qualities that, one hopes, all paediatricians would aspire to. But what relevance has this to day-to-day clinical research, beyond an aspiration to be good? Specifically, where do researchers unwittingly fall foul of acceptable standards of research conduct? This review is aimed at the well intentioned clinical researcher who strives to keep within the rules, and focuses on areas that cause the most problems.


A duplicate publication is one that overlaps substantially with an article published elsewhere, and is usually published by the same author.2 Recently, authors of systematic reviews in anaesthesia found 103 potential duplicate publications (secondary publications) linked to 78 corresponding primary articles (that is, those published first). Specific patterns of duplication were identified.3 First was the straight copy, for example, where the results of a study were re-published in a pharmaceutical sponsored supplement. Second was where the data from a single …

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  • Competing interests: The author has received financial support to attend conferences from Astra, 3M, Merck (UK), Glaxo-Wellcome, and Allen and Hanburys (UK). He has received payment for lectures given at educational meetings from Astra, Merck (UK), and Glaxo-Wellcome. He has been a co-investigator on a asthma genetics study funded by Glaxo-Wellcome, and has received an unrestricted research grant from Merck (UK).

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