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Misconduct in the scientific literature

A group of researchers from Brazil, Hungary, Ireland, and Norway searched scientific journal databases for the terms “research ethics” and “research integrity.” The survey, published in the journal BMC Medical Ethics in April, aimed to reveal the perspectives of academic literature on cases of misconduct. From a total of 14,719 records on platforms such as PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus, 238 examples that contained a description of the issues and fell within the scope of the study were selected for analysis. The majority (44.9% of the total) related to fabrication and falsification. Noncompliance with laws and regulations was the second most common, with 15.7%, followed by patient safety issues (11.1%), plagiarism (6.9%), and others. Just over 80% of cases were in the medical and health sciences, with the natural sciences (11.5%) in second place. Next were social sciences (4.3%), engineering (2.1%), and humanities (1.3%). The most frequent sanctions were retraction of scientific articles (45.4%) and funding exclusions (35.5%). The study, whose lead author is Anna Catharina Vieira Armond, a Brazilian PhD student at the School of Public Health of the University of Debrecen in Hungary, concludes that data fabrication and falsification are overrepresented in academic literature and that this could divert the scientific community’s attention away from various other forms of misconduct.

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