Granberg, Donald O., and John F. Galliher. A Most Human Enterprise: Controversies in the Social Sciences. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2010. x + 151 pages. Paper, $60.00.
The world of academe has always struggled with the topic of research violations. From plagiarism to abusing human and animal subjects, we are always on the watch for research that does not meet the standards of our discipline. Each discipline has its own series of journals where scholars review each other's research. It is in those journals where the guidelines for research are best spelled out for everyone.
The social sciences have their own journals and peer-review process; and within social sciences are sociology and psychology, which are the focus fields of this book. Sociologists Donald Granberg and John Galliher have put together a series of case studies in A Most Human Enterprise that report and examine a wide variety of abuses in the world of academic research. The title of the book is a good choice because those who committed the abuses include those who believe that because they are researching for the betterment of humankind their violation was validated by the usefulness of the results.
This book organizes various types of research abuse into categories, led by the way case studies are laid out in it. The first series of studies examine cases where humans were mistreated, or misled, in some way, to achieve valid research data. The next sections examine a different type of research abuse, plagiarism. These studies present various types of plagiarism that occur in the academic world, starting with the invention of data on the part of the researcher. The study of social psychologist Karen Ruggiero is very revealing about how easy it is to manipulate or invent data, and how long it might take for anyone to figure out that the research is invalid. What is really frightening to the academic heart is that it might never have been revealed. One cannot help but ask the question, how much invalid research is out there that has never been challenged? The authors do an excellent job of presenting that case and that question in this section of case studies. They offer no solutions to the various aspects of poor research techniques, but this study offers one: It was an academic outside of Cyril Burt's field of educational psychology who caught the fraud because he was viewing the data with a different set of eyes. Philosopher Thomas Kuhn comes to mind with the idea of...