A compilation of articles regarding Research Misconduct issues. 

Research Misconduct News




Transparency of peer review: a semi-structured interview study with chief editors from social sciences and humanities

November 18, 2021

Karhulahti, VM., Backe, HJ. Transparency of peer review: a semi-structured interview study with chief editors from social sciences and humanities. Res Integr Peer Rev 6, 13 (2021).

"Open peer review practices are increasing in medicine and life sciences, but in social sciences and humanities (SSH) they are still rare. We aimed to map out how editors of respected SSH journals perceive open peer review, how they balance policy, ethics, and pragmatism in the review processes they oversee, and how they view their own power in the process."


Scammers impersonate guest editors to get sham papers published

Hundreds of junk-science papers have been retracted from reputable journals after fraudsters used ‘special issues’ to manipulate the publication process. And the problem is growing.

November 8, 2021
By Holly Else


"Hundreds of articles published in peer-reviewed journals are being retracted after scammers exploited the processes for publishing special issues to get poor-quality papers — sometimes consisting of complete gibberish — into established journals. In some cases, fraudsters posed as scientists and offered to guest-edit issues that they then filled with sham papers."


University offers to rehire professor acquitted of hiding China ties

Supporters of Anming Hu have decried his treatment by the University of Tennessee

October 18, 2021
By Jeffrey Mervis

"The University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), has offered to reinstate Anming Hu, a tenured engineering professor acquitted of federal charges that he failed to disclose ties to China on a grant application."


University of Washington settles DOJ claims of grant fraud

October 12, 2021
AP News

"SEATTLE (AP) — The University of Washington has agreed to pay more than $800,000 to settle Justice Department allegations that a professor submitted false documentation relating to a highly competitive grant."


Federal Research: Agency Actions Needed to Address Foreign Influence

GAO-22-105434, U.S. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE: A Century of Non-Partisan Fact-Based Work
Published: Oct 05, 2021. Publicly Released: Oct 05, 2021


"To protect U.S. investments in scientific research from undue foreign influence, federal agencies should have conflict of interest policies and require researchers to disclose foreign interests."


The Mysterious Case of the Nonsense Papers

A peer-reviewed journal published hundreds of them. Why?

Tom Bartlett, The Chronicle of Higher Education
September 28, 2021

“A peer-reviewed journal recently published a mind-bending paper. It begins with a highly technical section about groundwater seepage before delving into a lively discussion of dance training. The paper shifts back and forth between the two topics, informing the reader about rare-earth elements before urging dancers to “tighten buttocks” during warm-ups. There are tables and graphs, citations and hyperlinks. It’s all very sober and scientific-seeming and yet, at the same time, completely bonkers.”


Publishers unite to tackle doctored images in research papers

Eight major publishers have issued joint guidelines for how journal editors can spot and deal with suspicious images or data

Holly Else, Nature
September 28, 2021

“Some of the world’s largest publishers have come together to tackle the growing problem of image manipulation in scientific papers. They have developed a three-tier classification system that editors can use to flag suspicious content, and detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to deal with doctored images.”



Can we fix research culture?

Collection of articles

Chemistry World
September 28, 2021


“Hypercompetition. Overwork. Career instability. Lack of diversity. Discrimination. Misconduct. These are just some of the characteristic problems of current academic research culture. Despite the strain these issues place on researchers, improvement have been slow to emerge due to the complex network of interactions between all the parties involved in academic research – including funders, universities, publishers and the researchers themselves.

In this collection we look more closely at these issues from the viewpoints of the people affected by them, and highlight some of the solutions being proposed to make academic research environments healthier and happier places to do science.”


Why Don’t We Teach Ph.D.s to Be Mentors?

Adding mentoring skills to doctoral training is a key to graduate-education reform

Maria LaMonaca Wisdom, The Chronicle of Higher Education
September 21, 2021


“Since January, I’ve spent hours on Zoom fielding questions from doctoral students and postdocs about mentoring and mentors. They’ve been asking questions like:

  • “Can you sever a relationship with a mentor without burning bridges?”
  • “How important is ‘chemistry’ in a mentor-mentee relationship?”
  • “What’s a ‘mentoring persona,’ anyway? Can I be a good mentor if I don’t have one?”

I never expected to teach a graduate course on mentoring, nor did I expect that, when I did, my students would be so captivated by the topic. But with a pandemic curtailing opportunities for in-person interactions, mentoring — or the lack thereof — has been on everyone’s minds.”


Swedish research misconduct agency swamped with cases in first year

The newly formed government organization tackled 46 research-fraud investigations in 2020 - three times as many as expected.

Holly Else, Nature
September 13, 2021

"Scientists have inundated Sweden’s new national research-misconduct investigation agency with cases, and there is no sign of a let-up in referrals.

Researchers brought 46 cases to the organization — called the National Board for Assessment of Research Misconduct (NPOF) and based in Uppsala — in its first year, according to a report detailing its activities in 2020. This caseload was three times higher than officials were expecting.

In most countries, universities and research institutions deal with misconduct allegations in-house, which can lead to some cases not being handled fairly or transparently."


How misconduct helped psychological science to thrive

Grass-roots action against bad behaviour has spurred reform — and should keep going

Jelte Weichert, Nature
September 7, 2021


“Ten years ago this week, I was startled to see tweets saying that Dutch psychologist Diederik Stapel, a former colleague, had admitted to falsifying and fabricating data in dozens of articles. My inbox filled with e-mails from fellow methodologists, researchers who examine and refine research techniques and statistical tools. They expressed disbelief about the extent of the misconduct, but also a sense of inevitability. We all knew that sloppiness, low ethical standards and competitiveness were widespread.

What happened next was inspiring: an open debate that went far beyond misconduct and focused on improving research.”


Leading the charge to address research misconduct

Like all science, the field of psychology is vulnerable to fabrication, falsification, and poor research practices, but psychologists are leading the charge for change

September 1, 2021
By Stephanie Pappas, American Psychological Association
Vol. 52 No. 6, Print version: page 71

"When James DuBois, ScD, PhD, launched a training program in 2013 for researchers caught failing to comply with research protocols, plagiarizing, or falsifying and fabricating data, it was controversial, to say the least. The program’s launch was accompanied by a feature article in Nature’s news section, and much of the feedback was incensed (Cressey, D., Vol. 493, No. 197).

'Oh, my goodness, the chat for the online story!' DuBois, an applied psychologist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, recalled. 'There was so much hate.'

It’s no wonder. Misconduct flies in the face of the values of scientific research, which at its heart is about the search for truth."


Why Bad Science Is Sometimes More Appealing Than Good Science

Researchers cite studies that can’t be replicated weirdly often.

Naomi Oreskes, Scientific American
August 1, 2021


“A recent paper makes an upsetting claim about the state of science: nonreplicable studies are cited more often than replicable ones. In other words, according to the report in Science Advances, bad science seems to get more attention than good science.”