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"Serious Sanctions" Wanted

Many Americans say that research fraud should be criminalized, Retraction Watch reports.

A study from the University at Albany's Justin Pickett and Sean Roche posted at the Social Science Research Network found that more than 90 percent of the people they surveyed thought that researchers who falsify or fabricate data should be fired from their jobs and not allowed to receive government grants. The respondents also thought that researchers who selectively report data should be similarly dealt with. At the same time, more than half the respondents said that data fraud should be a criminal offense that leads to jail time.

"The findings show that the public overwhelming judges both data fraud and selective reporting as morally wrong, and supports a range of serious sanctions for these behaviors," Pickett and Roche write in their paper.

Retraction Watch's Ivan Oransky notes that this is out of step with how research fraud is typically dealt with. He says there have only been a handful of research fraud cases that have led to criminal proceedings and prison sentences, as the Office of Research Integrity only occasionally refers a case to the Department of Justice

These "results suggest the public would probably want the cases to be referred and prosecuted much more frequently," Pickett tells him.