Current US and international policies for dealing with misconduct in biomedical research follow a largely intuitive approach. For research funded by the Public Health Service in the USA, the definition of research misconduct is “fabrication (making up data or results and recording or reporting them), falsification (manipulating research materials, equipment or processes or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record), and plagiarism (the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit)”. It does not include honest error or differences of opinion but “must be committed intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly; and the allegation must be proven by a preponderance of the evidence” (42 CFR 93.103, 104).
… the efficiency of research misconduct policies in meeting scientific and social goals […] remains largely unknown—as well as the causal factors that underlie misconduct.
However, the efficiency of research misconduct policies in meeting scientific and social goals of ensuring public health and safety, the integrity of research and the prudent expenditure of public funds remain largely unknown—as well as the causal factors that underlie misconduct. A recent systematic review by the Cochrane organization found that the evidence on which these policies are based to be incomplete and the existing evidence of low quality and not generalizable.
For more than four decades, research misconduct was thought to be extremely rare and largely committed by individual psychopathology—the proverbial bad apples—and that self‐correction by the scientific community is sufficient to manage the problem. The structure of regulation in the USA reflects many of these assumptions: that the individual is solely at fault; that institutions can adequately manage allegations; and that reliance on whistleblowers to draw attention to fabrication, falsification, and plagiarism (FFP) is sufficient.
Findings from social psychology
However, evidence from disciplines such as social …
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