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The Men of Misconduct

After reviewing US Office of Research Integrity misconduct reports issued since 1994, the University of Washington's Ferric Fang, Joan Bennett at Rutgers University, and Arturo Casadevall from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that 88 percent of faculty members who committed fraud were male as were 69 percent of postdocs, 58 percent of students, and 42 percent of other research personnel, as they write in mBio.

Only nine of the 72 faculty members who committed research misconduct were female, which is "one-third of the number that would have been predicted from their overall representation among life sciences faculty," the researchers write. They note, though, that they cannot rule out that women are less likely to get caught.

But what is behind this gender difference and why people committed research misconduct is unknown. Fang, Bennett, and Casadevall say that "while not excluding a role for biological factors, recent studies suggest an important contribution of social and cultural influences in the competitive tendencies of males and females" and note that "it is generally known that men are more likely to engage in risky behaviors than women."