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University Science Squads Ferret Out Fraud

Photo: Getty Images Scientific swindlers, beware. Universities are policing fraud and misuse of public funds better than ever before, according to federal regulators, who point to a surge in misconduct findings during the past 18 months as evidence of successful sleuthing. Each year, 30 to 40 institutions report to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) that they have investigated claims of falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism (FF&P) in scientific research. In the past decade, about 3

Peg Brickley
Photo: Getty Images

Scientific swindlers, beware. Universities are policing fraud and misuse of public funds better than ever before, according to federal regulators, who point to a surge in misconduct findings during the past 18 months as evidence of successful sleuthing. Each year, 30 to 40 institutions report to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) that they have investigated claims of falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism (FF&P) in scientific research. In the past decade, about 30% of investigations resulted in findings of scientific misconduct, and in the last year and a half, that figure has jumped to about 60%.

Should working scientists worry about waning research ethics? No, says Alan R. Price, director of ORI's Division of Investigative Oversight. He reads the rising rate of misconduct findings as an indicator that universities are becoming more skilled at ferreting out breaches of integrity. "Things that in the past have been handled...

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