Menu

Survey: UK Researchers Rife with Misconduct

Are scores of British scientists faking data and plagiarizing?

Jul 5, 2016
Bob Grant

Nearly 1 in 5 UK researchers have fabricated data, while 1 in 7 have committed plagiarism, according to a recently published survey of 215 British academics. The report, written by University of Kent researchers Joanna Williams and David Roberts and funded by the Society for Research into Higher Education, concluded that “academics do occasionally experience pressure to compromise their integrity, and they employ individualized strategies to resolve such dilemmas.”

But at least one misconduct watcher is urging caution in interpreting the results of the small survey. “I would be cautious in concluding too much from this survey with regard to the actual prevalence of specific unethical behaviors,” University of Washington microbiologist Ferric Fang told Retraction Watch. Central to Fang’s skepticism are the wide statistical margins of error inherent to the survey method employed by Williams and Roberts.

Although this survey indicates a higher rate of misconduct than previous questionnaires turned up, the recurring theme of career pressure driving academics to bend the rules emerged among respondents, the authors noted.

Williams said that the problem might be ameliorated by cutting back on administrative oversight. “My own view is that more academic freedom and less interference from institutional managers and government directives would give people a stronger sense of ownership of their research,” she wrote at Times Higher Education. “This, in turn, would give them a greater urge to make sure it is carried out rigorously and honestly. In other words, integrity cannot be legislated into existence: it can come only with autonomy.”

February 2019

Big Storms Brewing

Can forests weather more major hurricanes?

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb) today showcases new automation features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer during the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening 2019 International Conference and Exhibition (SLAS) in Washington, D.C., February 2–6. These capabilities enable the ZE5 to be used for high-throughput flow cytometry in biomarker discovery and phenotypic screening.
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Researchers to benefit from an innovative software-connected pipetting system, bringing improved reproducibility and traceability of experiments to life-science laboratories.
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) will showcase advanced 3D cell culture technologies and workflow solutions for spheroids, organoids, tissue models, and applications including ADME/toxicology at the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) conference, Feb. 2-6 in Washington, D.C.
Corning Introduces New 1536-well Spheroid Microplate
Corning Introduces New 1536-well Spheroid Microplate
High-throughput spheroid microplate benefits cancer research, drug screening