Elisabeth Pain on lab fraud

”Researchers are human, and there is more scientific misbehavior in scientific labs than makes headlines.”

- Elisabeth Pain, writing in Science Online

Journalist Pain highlights the growing awareness of unsavory scientific practice in labs worldwide, which has spawned several recent international conferences on how to grapple with the problem. Although only the big mishaps are publicized, Pain points to a survey of nearly 8000 scientists funded by the US National Institute of Health, about a third of whom confessed to recent misconduct, including “falsifying or fabricating data, not disclosing conflicts of interest, using others' ideas without credit, and failing to present data that contradict one's previously published research”.

This may seem shocking, but there is increasing acknowledgement that young scientists are under incredible pressure to succeed, and if a small act of misbehavior helps someone publish more quickly, one can at least understand the motivations. It can help for mentors to stress the importance of integrity to their young trainees – at least some acts of misconduct apparently stem from ignorance of professional codes of ethics.

You can read the entire article here, which includes some sound advice if you are considering blowing the whistle on a suspected lab fraudster.