WASHINGTON -- Fraud in scientific research, while still rare, is growing at a troubling pace, a new study finds.
A review of retractions in medical and biological peer-reviewed journals finds the percentage of studies withdrawn because of fraud or suspected fraud has jumped substantially since the mid-1970s. In 1976, there were fewer than 10 fraud retractions for every 1 million studies published, compared with 96 retractions per million in 2007.
The study authors aren't quite sure why this is happening. But they and outside experts point to pressure to hit it big in science, both for funding and attention, and to what seems to be a subtle increase in deception in overall society that science may simply be mirroring.
Fraud in life sciences research is still minuscule and committed by only a few dozen scientific scofflaws. But it causes big problems, said Arturo Casadevall of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. He is the lead author of the study, which looked at the reasons for 2,047 retractions among many millions of studies published in journals and kept in a government database.
Fraud was the No. 1 cause of retractions, 43 percent of them. When fraud was combined with other areas of misconduct, such as plagiarism, it explained about 2 out of 3 retractions, it was -- AP