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Alarming medical research in Iran

A group of researchers from various universities in Iran recently sent a scientific integrity questionnaire to professors at medical schools around the country. Of the 692 professors who agreed to participate in the survey, 72.1% said they had personally witnessed misconduct in the previous 12 months. The circumstances most likely to lead to ethical deviations, according to the respondents, include pressure to obtain stable positions, the need to increase scientific output, and a lack of commitment to curb violations at research institutions. Only 18.5% of participants rated the effectiveness of their institutions’ anti-misconduct rules as high or very high.

The risk of being caught for misconduct was classified as low or very low by 80.6% of respondents. The most frequent problems were cited as fraudulent attribution of authorship, data falsification, and manipulation of results to reach more impactful conclusions. The study, shared on the Research Square repository, was led by Dr. Bita Mesgarpour, director of the National Institute for Medical Research Development in Tehran and former undersecretary for research and technology at the Iranian Ministry of Health. The survey concludes that the country needs more effective public policies to tackle the high rates of misconduct in medical research.