Why do scientists sometimes falsify experimental results? How do they do it, and how do they get caught? Elisabeth Bik, the scientist who gave up a research career to fight this type of fraud, speaks about the battle for scientific integrity
From a young age we are taught that cheating and copying in tests and essays is forbidden. It starts with gentle warnings in elementary school, becoming highly reinforced during final exams in highschool and moreover so in university. This rule of ethics relies on the premise that copying is the same as stealing, and the ten commandments clearly state: “Thou shalt not steal”. However, just as there are those who challenge fundamental social understandings between fellow men, steal horses or counterfeit bills, there are also those who specialize in theft and falsification of scientific and academic research findings.
We are massive fans of the work Elisabeth Bik does to detect and call out fraud in research and scientific writing. In this piece, Jonathan Berkheim discusses with her the mechanics of such fraudulent activity. Why do some researchers falsify, fabricate and plagiarise? How do they go about it and how do they get caught? This interesting piece dives into the issues. It is a useful read for anyone involved in an institution’s research misconduct processes.
Several initiatives, designed to promote clarity and integrity in the system of academic publication, have been established over the years. The most prominent of these are the websites Retraction Watch, founded by “The Center for Scientific Integrity”, and PubPeer.com, an American non-profit organization that aims at conducting unmediated peer review.