The stakes for scientific research integrity have never been higher. Since World War II, a surge of scientific breakthroughs has geometrically increased the profession's benefits and corresponding risks to society. At the same time, federally financed research funding is under the deficit-cutters' microscope. Well-publicized scandals have shaken public confidence that scientific conclusions can be trusted, and that taxpayers are getting their money's worth. Until the perception of integrity is restored, the flow of federal funding for research is in danger of drying up to a trickle.

Since last July, a congressionally mandated Commission on Research Integrity (CRI) has been holding public hearings to prepare recommendations for Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala on how to achieve this goal. The only realistic way for universities and research institutes to preempt a disastrous political backlash is by adopting credible structural checks and balances for accountability. In an era of decreasing...

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