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One in Seven Scientists Say Colleagues Fake Data

Faking scientific data and failing to report commercial conflicts of interest are far more prevalent than previously thought, a study suggests.

One in seven scientists says that they are aware of colleagues having seriously breached acceptable conduct by inventing results.

Around 46 percent say that they have observed fellow scientists engage in "questionable practices," such as presenting data selectively or changing the conclusions of a study in response to pressure from a funding source.

However, when scientists were asked about their own behavior, only 2 percent admitted to having faked results.

Daniele Fanelli, of the University of Edinburgh, who carried out the investigation, believes that high-profile cases such as that of Hwang Woo-Suk, the South Korean scientist disgraced for fabricating human stem cell data, are less unusual than is generally assumed.

"Increasing evidence suggests that known frauds are just the tip of the iceberg and that many cases are never discovered," he said.

The findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal PLoS One, are based on a review of 21 scientific misconduct surveys carried out between 1986 and 2005. The results paint a picture of a profession in which dishonesty and misrepresentation are widespread.

• Click here to read the rest of this story in the Times of London.