Substantial costs associated with scientific misconduct should prioritize prevention efforts

August 17, 2010

The estimated costs associated with a single investigation of scientific misconduct can be as high as US $525,000, and the costs of investigating the allegations of scientific misconduct annually reported in the United States to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), could exceed US$110 million, according to a paper from Arthur M. Michalek and colleagues from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York, USA published in this week's PLoS Medicine.

The authors devised a to estimate the costs associated with scientific misconduct — which they divided into three categories; conduct of the fraudulent research, investigation, and remediation — and then applied this model to one case study that was based on an actual investigation. The authors conservatively estimated that if their observed costing for this single investigation was applied to all 217 allegations of misconduct reported to the ORI in their last reporting year, the direct costs would exceed $110 million.

The authors argue that although scientific misconduct may never be eliminated, cases of misconduct more related to a lack of scientific standards (rather than to deliberate misdeeds) can be prevented but concede that how such prevention can be achieved has not yet been determined. They say, "Most academic institutions have… undertaken a number of efforts to increase awareness through education and training, setting forth and enforcing scientific codes of conduct, providing mentorship training, auditing and monitoring procedures, and implementing procedures for reporting and investigating alleged incidents of misconduct."

The authors conclude: "The ultimate effectiveness of these approaches may take time to discern. What is known, however, is that the costs of these proactive activities pale in comparison to the costs of a single case of ."

Explore further: Fingering fraud takes toll on students

More information: Michalek AM, Hutson AD, Wicher CP, Trump DL (2010) The Costs and Underappreciated Consequences of Research Misconduct: A Case Study. PLoS Med 7(8): e1000318. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000318

Related Stories

Fingering fraud takes toll on students

July 31, 2006

Blowing the whistle on a professor's alleged scientific misconduct has taken a toll on the careers of six University of Wisconsin-Madison students.

No stem-cell misconduct by Pa. researcher

February 10, 2006

A University of Pittsburgh panel has ruled that a biologist committed no scientific misconduct involving fraudulent South Korean cloning research.

Scientists resolve to crack down on fraud

December 10, 2008

Public confidence in the honesty of scientists is being harmed by a small minority of researchers who behave badly, a conference heard last week. European research organisations agreed to work more closely to tackle the problem ...

Feds pressure Tenet; hospital may close

May 9, 2006

The U.S. government wants to prohibit the Alvarado Hospital Medical Center in San Diego from taking part in Medicare and similar government programs.

Recommended for you

Plague likely a Stone Age arrival to central Europe

November 22, 2017

A team of researchers led by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History has sequenced the first six European genomes of the plague-causing bacterium Yersinia pestis dating from the Late Neolithic ...

How to cut your lawn for grasshoppers

November 22, 2017

Picture a grasshopper landing randomly on a lawn of fixed area. If it then jumps a certain distance in a random direction, what shape should the lawn be to maximise the chance that the grasshopper stays on the lawn after ...

Ancient barley took high road to China

November 21, 2017

First domesticated 10,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, wheat and barley took vastly different routes to China, with barley switching from a winter to both a winter and summer crop during a thousand-year ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.