Allegations of Research Misconduct

Allegations of Research Misconduct

There are differing definitions of scientific misconduct. This is dealt on a case by case basis while following guidance produced by bodies that include the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), the World Association of Medical Editors (WAME) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).WAME gives a useful overview of misconduct, using a slightly amended version of the US Office of Research Integrity definition of scientific misconduct and including these behaviors:

• Falsification of data: Ranges from fabrication to deceptive reporting of findings and omission of conflicting data, or willful suppression and/or distortion of data. 

• Plagiarism: The appropriation of the language, ideas or thoughts of another without crediting their true source and representation of them as one’s own original work. 

• Improprieties of authorship: Improper assignment of credit, and excluding others, misrepresentation of the same material as original in more than one publication, inclusion of individuals as authors who have not made a definite contribution to the work published or submission of multi-authored publications without the concurrence of all authors.

• Misappropriation of the ideas of others: An important aspect of scholarly activity is the exchange of ideas among colleagues. Scholars can acquire novel ideas from others during the process of reviewing grant applications and manuscripts. However, improper use of such information can constitute fraud. Wholesale appropriation of such material constitutes misconduct. 

• Violation of generally accepted research practices: Serious deviation from accepted practices in proposing or carrying out research, improper manipulation of experiments to obtain biased results, deceptive statistical or analytical manipulations, or improper reporting of results.

 • Material failure to comply with legislative and regulatory requirements affecting research: including but not limited to serious or substantial, repeated, willful violations of applicable local regulations and law involving the use of funds, care of animals, human subjects, investigational drugs, recombinant products, new devices, or radioactive, biological or chemical materials. 

• Inappropriate behavior in relation to misconduct: this includes unfounded or knowingly false accusations of misconduct, failure to report known or suspected misconduct, withholding of information relevant to a claim or misconduct and retaliation against persons involved in the allegation or investigation. 

Many journals also include redundant publication and duplicate publication, lack of declaration of competing interests and of funding/sponsorship, and other failures of transparency to be forms of misconduct.