In late 1989, the Public Health Service (PHS)--the parent organization of the National Institutes of Health--ruled that after January 1990 no research proposal would be accepted from any university that did not certify that it had in place a formal set of regulations on how to handle research misconduct. Subsequently, an Office of Scientific Integrity was established at NIH to investigate alleged fraud. Meanwhile, although the National Science Foundation doesn't yet have such an office, it does have an inspector general who seems to serve much the same function.

These entities are actually concerned not only with "fraud," but also with misconduct and conflict of interest--all three of which are types of misbehavior that may not always be so easily distinguishable. One of the reasons that nobody knows the exact extent of scientific fraud is that nobody knows exactly what it is. What do we mean by the phrase?


Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?