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Hammersley, M. (2020). On Epistemic Integrity in Social Research. In Handbook of Research Ethics and Scientific Integrity. Springer Nature Switzerland AG. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-76040-7_16-1


The concept of research integrity has gained increasing public salience in recent times. The chapter deals with a crucial aspect of this in the context of social research – what can be referred to as epistemic integrity. This amounts to a practical commitment to values that are intrinsic to all research activity, given that its goal is the production of worthwhile knowledge. These values include: truth and justifiability of findings, their relevance to human concerns, feasibility of strategies, and honesty about the research process. The implications of these values are outlined in relation to the various stages of research, from selecting and developing research questions to reporting research findings and engaging with critics who dispute the findings or question the methods. A central theme is that, as with ethical issues, these values do not amount to specific injunctions, nor can they be satisfied simply by following standard procedures. Instead, researchers must exercise reflective judgment about what epistemic integrity demands in particular circumstances.