EUGENE, Ore. — A recent study finds fraud in scientific research has grown at a concerning rate since the 1970s.
The study includes a review of more than 2,000 retractions in medical and biological peer-reviewed journals.
However, University of Oregon staff who work in the science research department say the percentage, out of the 22 million studies examined, is small. The authors agree but say when fraud happens it tends to be very serious.
Published in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found fraud to be the No. 1 cause of those retractions. In 1976, there were less than 10 fraud retractions for every one million studies. In 2007, there were 96 per million.
Outside experts say the pressure to make it big in science–when it comes to funding, recognition and profit–is rampant and that could be part of it.
“The reality is there’s always been pressure to publish in these kind of jobs and to get funding, so I don’t know that those pressures have changed. I think that people are more aware of what research misconduct is and are paying close attention to it,” said Beth Stormshak, UO Associate Vice President for Research.
UO staff say they have stiff policy on misconduct. The Director of Science and Research Communications at UO says in his 20 years of experience, he’s never dealt with research fraud.