Authors who falsely add colleagues to grant applications attract 70% more funding, according to a recent analysis.
The illegal inclusion of false investigators on grant proposals and research papers should be classified as research misconduct, according to Eric Fong, co-author of multiple studies on the practice.
This story and work suggest that the creation of fake co-researchers in grant applications is far more common than you might think and the questionable behaviour is being rewarded with real money. It is a form of fraud, should be treated as such and classified as a form of research misconduct. Institutions and funding bodies have a key role to play in stamping out and punishing this form of cheating.
The findings were based on anonymous responses to a survey of more than 10,000 researchers at 200 leading universities in the United States.
False investigators are those whose names are included on grant applications, but who intend to offer little or no input to the subsequent work if the grant is made. An earlier study based on the same data found that more than one in five survey respondents — 2,217 researchers — admitted to adding false investigators to their grant proposals.