Scientists faking results and omitting unwanted findings in research

By | June 9, 2009

Scientists faking results and omitting unwanted findings in research

More than two-thirds of researchers said they knew of colleagues who had committed “questionable” practices and one in seven said that included inventing findings.

But when scientists were asked about their own behaviour only two per cent admitted to having faked results.

The findings, published in the journal Public Library of Science, are based on a review of 21 scientific misconduct surveys carried out between 1986 and 2005.

The results paint a picture of a profession in which dishonesty and misrepresentation are widespread.

On average, across the surveys, around two per cent of scientists admitted they had “fabricated” made up, “falsified” or “altered” data to “improve the outcome” at least once.

A further 34 per cent admitted to other questionable research practices including “failing to present data that contradict one’s own previous research” and “dropping observations or data points from analyses based on a gut feeling that they were inaccurate.”

In surveys that asked about the behaviour of colleagues, 14 per cent knew someone who had fabricated, falsified or altered data, and up to 72 per cent knew someone who had committed other questionable research practices.

Misconduct was reported most frequently by medical researchers, suggesting commercial pressures maybe putting extra pressure on them to have the right results.

– via Telegraph

Compare the rate at which scientists, who are somewhat subjected to peer review, do this, to the rate at which non-scientists ignore reality and I think the scientists still come out ahead.

One thought on “Scientists faking results and omitting unwanted findings in research

  1. Ann

    Yes, this report is true, but it is not new information among scientists. Books and articles have been published on this or related topics in various fields, medicine, epidemiology etc. The former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine wrote traced it back to the 1980s (don’t have the author or the title at the moment) when physician researchers began thinking more about money instead of scientific research. It’s about the time when pharmaceutical industries were increasing their funding and federal funds were drying up. (Thank you, Pres. Reagan)

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