Despite the extensive literature on what questionable research practices (QRPs) are and how to measure them, the normative underpinnings of such practices have remained less explored. QRPs often fall into a grey area of justifiable and unjustifiable practices. Where to precisely draw the line between such practices challenges individual scholars and this harms science. We investigate QRPs from a normative perspective using the theory of communicative action. We highlight the role of the collective in assessing individual behaviours. Our contribution is a framework that allows identification of when particular actions cross over from acceptable to unacceptable practice. Thus, this article provides grounds for developing scientific standards to raise the quality of scientific research.