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Good Practices

Ineffective battle against misconduct

The battle against scientific misconduct is ineffective in most developing countries, according to a study published in March in the journal PLoS Medicine. Although cases of fraud and plagiarism are a global problem, involving 2%–14% of scientists in developed countries, poorer nations are still unprepared to deal with issues related to research integrity and ethics.

The authors examined data on fabrication of results, falsification of experiments and plagiarism in 11 countries: Argentina, Bangladesh, China, Costa Rica, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Mexico, Peru, South Africa and Tunisia. They concluded that, with the exception of China, which created an office for scientific research integrity, the poorest countries have hardly any mechanisms to deal with misconduct.

The lead author of the study, the Nigerian Joseph Ana, told the portal SciDev.net that misconduct has roots in the “publish or perish” culture, which places pressure on researchers to publish lots of articles as a way to climb the career ladder. Another factor he identified is the difficulty in writing in English, which leads many people to plagiarize portions of other people’s articles.