Lies, Damn Lies? and Scientific Misconduct

It?s time for a revolution in the ethics of research

Glenn McGee
Feb 1, 2006

Merriam Webster reports that in 2005, ?integrity? received more hits than any other word in their online dictionary. It?s not clear how many more hits scientific integrity can take: An MIT researcher is fired for fabricating a dozen papers. A pharmaceutical company omits data from key publications about side effects. A South Korean stem cell researcher admits to a stunned nation that, ?blinded by work and a drive for achievement,? he submitted a ?fake it before you make it? article to Science. It appears that research misconduct has taken its place among the epidemics that scientists need to worry about.

An aphorism attributed to Mark Twain holds that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics. At first the public points to a bad apple who paints mice or switches out slides, and fumes if the researcher conspires to hide it. But it takes a village to...

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