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Ten Shades Of Grey

The integrity of information is complex and should not be judged in strict black and white / yes or no terms. Fair treatment for those accused of integrity violations requires a nuanced view using greyscale metrics. Greyscales show both the range of integrity levels and the degree to which each level indicates potential malpractice. Those levels allow nuanced and balanced decisions about consequences that affect people’s lives.

The form of integrity violation that does the least damage to scholarship and to science generally is plagiarism, which is a legal and ethical problem, but does not falsify data. The tables below offer metrics to measure plagiarism problems.

The same principles can be used to judge the far more complex situations that arise with data manipulation and falsification.


Seadle, Michael S. Quantifying Research Integrity. Synthesis Lectures on Information Concepts, Retrieval, and Services 53. San Rafael, California: Morgan & Claypool, 2017.

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