Sine Qua Non Conditions for Research
In the field of plastic surgery, research is carried out by many surgeons. Several residency training programs require that residents take time away from their clinical activities to focus solely on research, but the amount of time as well as the format of this research time varies considerably. Levi and Longaker insisted dedicated nonclinical research time at least a year would greatly benefit in the training of plastic surgeons.2 He proposed several types of research for resident training: Basic science, Translational, Outcomes, Education, Innovation/entrepreneurship, and Public health/public policy.
Among them, translational research is increasing in plastic surgery field. Translational research implements a “bench-to-bedside,” from laboratory experiments through clinical trials to point-of-care patient applications, model.
Ten qualities have been suggested to be necessary for a good researcher: interest, motivation, inquisitiveness, commitment, sacrifice, excellence, knowledge, recognition, a scholarly approach, and integration.3
Then what are the prerequisites (sine qua non conditions) for research itself? In a forum, a retired professor (YO Ahn) of preventive medicine suggested that all research should exhibit professionalism, scientific integrity, logicality, autonomy, and ethics. I strongly agree with him and therefore conducted research into each of these conditions.
Professionalism is a pattern of behavior identified with scientific integrity that, in turn, gives certain privileges. Scientists are expected to behave with intellectual honesty and to exhibit excellence in their thought and behavior.
Scientific integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. It generally reflects a personal choice to hold oneself to standards of morality and ethics. This includes values such as honesty in research and publishing, avoidance of plagiarism or cheating, and maintenance of academic standards.
Logicality is the condition of being logical, which means being in agreement with the principles of logic. Logic is a method of human thought that involves thinking in a linear, step-by-step manner about how a problem can be solved.
Autonomy refers to voluntary participation and is based on informed consent. An exception from the principle of voluntary consent can be made when research is conducted using published and public information and archived materials. Research concerning official registries and documents that is carried out without the consent of the research subjects is governed by legislation. Research subjects can provide consent orally or in writing, or their behavior can otherwise be interpreted to mean that they have given consent to participate.4
Research ethics refers to the application of fundamental ethical principles to scientific research, including the design and implementation of research involving human experimentation, animal experimentation, and various aspects of academic scandals, including patients with scientific misconduct. The key ethical standard regulating medical research is the Declaration of Helsinki (1964).
In the bronze door of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, the figure of “Research” is carved in relief in a panel of a sculpture by Olin Warner (Fig. 1). In the allegorical figure of the goddess with her head turned to the right in 3-quarters profile, her left arm is holding the torch of knowledge, and her right arm is holding a sprig of laurel. The interpretation of the allegory of “research” may be up to the viewer. I think that the researcher enlightens the world with the torch of knowledge and that the act of research itself is an honor.
To obtain the torch and laurel in both hands, professionalism, scientific integrity, logicality, autonomy, and ethics are needed.