Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Sick Notes and Shadowy Scapegoats: The Excuses Academics Use to Explain Away Fraudulent Research Results: News

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Sick Notes and Shadowy Scapegoats: The Excuses Academics Use to Explain Away Fraudulent Research Results: News

Article excerpt

Tales of academics using imaginary collaborators to explain away dodgy research results and fabricating life-threatening diseases to avoid investigation formed some of the most memorable moments of the 3rd World Conference on Research Integrity, held in Montreal from 5 to 8 May.

Ivan Oransky, founder of the website Retraction Watch, also highlighted recent research which showed that the rate of retraction of journal papers was on the rise and that around two-thirds of retractions in the life sciences are the result of misconduct, rather than honest mistakes.

But the increasing frequency with which research misconduct cases of all kinds are being unearthed says more about improved detection efforts than any decline in standards, insisted Daniele Fanelli, Leverhulme Early Career fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

"To me it seems obvious that it's not that misconduct is growing, it's that the system that reacts to it is growing," said Dr Fanelli, who is the author of a landmark 2009 study showing that almost 2 per cent of researchers admitted to falsifying, fabricating or modifying data.

Dr Fanelli said that an increase in retraction was "the symptom of a growing solution, not a growing problem". …

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