While most researchers value the truth and strive to produce high-quality work that can be replicated, some researchers have been accused of committing research fraud. Research misconduct is a serious issue and damages the integrity of the field as a whole. That being said, research misconduct isn’t always obvious. In fact, even prestigious journals have accepted work that has later been classified as research fraud. This article will delve into research fabrication and falsification, its effects, and how it can be prevented.
What Is Research Misconduct and Why Does It Matter?
Research misconduct refers to deliberate attempts to deceive readers by fabricating information, falsifying information, and committing plagiarism. Research fabrication and falsification can occur throughout the research process but are most commonly seen in the results section. While unintentional errors don’t count as research misconduct, it’s important to maintain the integrity of the research by taking measures to prevent these issues.
In addition to compromising the integrity of the research itself, research misconduct wastes resources (human and financial resources) and undermines the public’s trust in research studies and science as a whole. It should also be noted that research fraud in medical studies can put public health at risk. In order for different fields to advance, research in the field has to be valid and reliable. Research falsification and fabrication jeopardize this.
One meta-analysis showed that 1.97% of researchers admitted to having modified, fabricated, or falsified data at least once in their careers. In addition to this, 33.7% admitted to questionable practices. However, these estimates are conservative since research misconduct is rarely reported or admitted to.
Types of Research Misconduct
There are three main types of research misconduct. These include research fabrication, research falsification, and plagiarism. Both research fabrication and falsification fall under research fraud. All are considered very serious offenses and damage the reputation of the individuals involved as well as other research conducted by the lab or institution.
This consists of researchers reporting made-up data and results. Instead of doctoring data, they state that specific processes took place or research was conducted when it wasn’t. Therefore, research fabrication is the addition of data, processes, and observations that never existed in the first place.
For example, research fabrication can consist of researchers including interviews that never took place or data on participants who do not exist.
On the other hand, research falsification is taking existing data, processes, materials, etc., and manipulating them. This most commonly results in doctored results by researchers who want findings to match their expected or desired results. Researchers can alter data to signify a statistically significant relationship when the opposite is the case. Falsification can also consist of omitting results and manipulating images to distort data.
Examples of research falsification include altering results, backdating interviews and procedures to fit a specific timeframe, and switching out records for research participants.
Plagiarism is also a serious breach of ethics and constitutes research misconduct. It’s the most common form of research misconduct and occurs when researchers don’t cite sources and claim others’ work as their own. It’s important to avoid plagiarism at all costs since even unintentional plagiarism counts as plagiarism.
Protecting Yourself from Research Misconduct Allegations
Whether you’re a student or an experienced researcher, you’re expected to follow ethical standards and prioritize research integrity at all times. Therefore, researchers must follow all rules set forth by administrating bodies and committees and ensure the highest standards throughout the entire process.
It’s imperative to avoid accusations of research fraud since these can ruin careers and reputations. To prevent false accusations of research misconduct, make sure all your results are accurate, and your processes and methods are explained adequately. If you enhance any images, it’s critical to mention this and include the original images as well.
Lastly, it’s wise to keep records of the data you’ve collected so it is readily available should you need to provide it to an investigative body. That being said, you must adhere to rules of data retention when it comes to human subjects since this data must be retained for a specific period of time. If you discover any mistakes or inaccuracies after your work has been published, you must take immediate steps to retract your research.
In addition to preventing research fabrication and falsification, it’s critical to make sure your research paper is thoroughly proofread and edited by professionals. Use Edit911’s affordable editing services to ensure your research paper is ready for review. Contact us here for more information.