A spate of research fraud and misconduct cases have caught people's attention "because scientists are supposed to occupy a moral high ground when it comes to the search for truth about nature," writes Alok Jha at The Guardian. While science is supposed to be a self-correcting exercise, Jha adds that those corrections can be slow to arise and in the meantime can mislead scores of researchers. There is, he notes, a range of misconduct with outright plagiarism and fabrication at one end and, at the other, issues like guest or honorary authorships or not divulging conflicts of interest. Further, he says, "the pressure to commit misconduct is complex." Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the journal mBio's Arturo Casadevall tell Jha that "what is happening in recent years is that the rewards have become too high, for example, for publishing in certain journals. Just like we see the problem in sports that, if you compete and you get a reward, it translates into everything from money and endorsements and things like that. People begin to take risks because the rewards are disproportionate."
Falling from the Pedestal
Sep 14, 2012