TED Conversations

richard moody jr

TEDCRED 10+

This conversation is closed.

How Many Scientists Fabricate and Falsify Research?

Is science misconduct an aberration or a common practice? Unintentional corruption of the factual record is commonplace, not so much as a deliberate attempt to engage in fraud but simply because that is accepted practice and procedure in a discipline.

In geology it is common practice to present the best or clearest example of a particular rock type, beddding characteristics, expression of faults and folds, etc. You don't present the average photographs or "the train wrecks" you present the best examples of your field work. Is this fraud? Not if you are a geologist, but some other scientists working in other disciplines not familiar with practice and procedure in your discipline.might brand that as fraud.

Here is some sobering data when it comes to what we expect in the coming years in science:

How Many Scientists Fabricate and Falsify Research? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Survey Data

Daniele Fanelli

"To standardize outcomes, the number of respondents who recalled at least one incident of misconduct was calculated for each question, and the analysis was limited to behaviours that distort scientific knowledge: fabrication, falsification, “cooking” of data, etc.

A pooled weighted average of 1.97% (N = 7, 95%CI: 0.86–4.45) of scientists admitted to have fabricated, falsified or modified data or results at least once –a serious form of misconduct by any standard– and up to 33.7% admitted other questionable research practices. In surveys asking about the behaviour of colleagues, admission rates were 14.12% (N = 12, 95% CI: 9.91–19.72) for falsification, and up to 72% for other questionable research practices. Meta-regression showed that self reports surveys, surveys using the words “falsification” or “fabrication” “fabrication”, and mailed surveys yielded lower percentages of misconduct. When these factors were controlled for, misconduct was reported more frequently by medical/pharmacological researchers than others.

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Dec 22 2012: Scientist are no better than the next person when it comes to cheating. There is always someone who can be bought, else where do the creationist scientists come from?
    I have personally seen examples of "cherry picking" evidence with under or non-reporting of outliers (I see this a lot in medical research)
    Any any result that shows the data supports the stated position or premise "too" well should be questioned.
    That is how science works is by peer review of results, re-done by a different group attempting to disprove the intiial paper. That is how scientists become famous is by proving something wrong.
    If a paper is not presented to a peer review journal for repudiation by other groups that it is not worth reading. period.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.