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ResourcesResearch IntegrityWork with someone who later commits misconduct? You may pay the price – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook | December 2017)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Work with someone who later commits misconduct? You may pay the price – Retraction Watch (Alison McCook | December 2017)

Published/Released on December 18, 2017 | Posted by Admin on February 7, 2018 / , , , , , ,
 


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It makes sense that scientists would adopt a sort of “buyer beware” attitude towards fraud — if researchers choose to collaborate with someone who’s been found guilty of some type of misconduct, their reputation among their peers might take a hit. But what about people who work with someone who is later convicted of misconduct — do they pay a price, as well? Yes, according to a preprint published recently by Katrin Hussinger and Maikel Pellens at the Centre for European Economic Research. We spoke with Hussinger and Pellens about how the “reputational damage” of misconduct can spread to prior collaborators.

Perhaps it might make sense to you that there will be an impact on your reputation if you collaborate with someone who in the past had a forced retraction. A good reason for due diligence prior to collaborating you might say. But what about a retrograde impact? An impact when a former collaborator has a forced retraction in the future? Now that’s harsh and hard to protect yourself against.

RW: It’s not a surprise to think that people who collaborate with a known fraudster might see some impact, but were you surprised to see that people who worked with a “fraudster” in the past were potentially affected?
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Maikel Pellens and Katrin Hussinger: This result might indeed seem surprising at first glance. Why would scientists be held responsible for the actions of their collaborators, when they could not have been aware of any upcoming issues when starting a collaboration? However, it is not that surprising if we consider to which extent scientists have to rely on trust. Science becomes ever more complex, and scientists do not have the resources, time, or incentives to personally validate each piece of prior research they need for their own work. Therefore, scientists need to rely on heuristics such as reputation to assess the work of their colleagues.
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