B – Fraud: who is responsible?

Blaustein, JD. Fraud: who is responsible? The Scientist 2010

“Who is responsible for the fraudulent data making its way into publication?” – asked the editor of Endocrinology – as a paper published in his journal was being retracted due to fraud. The allegations that led to action by the US Office of Research Integrity did not come from the editors or the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, nor from its reviewers or readers. If a researcher simply changed a value or two in a spreadsheet, there might be no sign visible to the head of the laboratory, collaborators, the journal reviewers or the editors; discovering the fraud depends on replication of the study. But another type of fraud, plagiarism, gets uncovered. The digitalization of science has made some types of fraud easier to perpetrate, but only marginally. Scientists who commit fraud believe they will get away with it, and some do, in the short term. Everyone must be vigilant; when data are suspect, they must be investigated by the appropriate body and not swept under the rug. “The system works, but sometimes too slowly,” he says.

Thanks to Margaret Cooter