How can we tackle the thorny problem of fraudulent research?

Mar 13, 2017 by

Misconduct in academia isn’t rampant but should be taken more seriously: let’s consider independent anti-corruption units

Mike Marinetto –

Watching the BBC’s detective drama Line of Duty, I thought: could the academic research community benefit from an internal affairs style anti-corruption unit? Not to police illegal behaviour in an underworld of dons and deans – but to tackle the very real problem of fraudulent research.

Prof David Latchman, one the country’s leading research geneticists, is under investigation for scientific misconduct after being cleared of different misconduct charges in 2015. In a statement, law firm Mishcon de Reya said Latchman rejected the allegations, saying there was “no basis” for further investigation.

This is not an isolated case. The social psychologist Dirk Smeesters gained an international research reputation and senior positions on the basis of fraudulent research. In 2007, the dean of Durham University’s business school Prof Tony Antoniou resigned over claims that he plagiarised an article and parts of his doctoral thesis. But the most prominent historical instances of fraud have been in hard science – especially medicine: Andrew Wakefield, John Darsee, and Robert Millikan who won a Nobel prize on the back of what some have argued was fraudulent science.

The investigation of such high-profile names for scientific fraud may give the impression that bespoke self-governance is the surest way to guarantee ethical integrity. But this is false confidence – a high degree of uncertainty remains. If anything, these exposés should lead to some profound questioning by us as academics and by our academic institutions.

Down the rabbit hole

The level of fraudulent science and misconduct in academia may not be rampant or out of control, but it still requires careful scrutiny and attention. We know professional academic cheating exists but we do not know exactly how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Source: How can we tackle the thorny problem of fraudulent research? | Mike Marinetto | Higher Education Network | The Guardian

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