Scientists pressured to publish are more likely to be guilty of questionable research practices, according to an integrity study according to the NRC.
The results of Lex Bouter’s National Research Integrity Survey showed that more than half of Dutch scientists routinely break scientific rules by omitting unwanted research results, concealing methodological issues, or citing meaningfully. selective scientific literature. About eight percent of scientists have even identified or falsified research results in the past three years.
The investigation found a link between the violation of scientific procedures and a number of external factors. Scientists who thought they needed to publish an article as quickly as possible to receive funding were more likely to be guilty of questionable research practices. Men and early-career scientists were also more likely to forge results.
On the other hand, if the researchers felt that their article would be thoroughly reviewed by their peers, they were less likely to commit fraud.
“Maybe not very shocking, Bouter notes, but this is the first time that it has been drawn this way. Please note: these are associations. Our research does not actually determine cause and effect. It is therefore not a given that if we refuse the publication pressure, this behavior will immediately diminish. “
The integrity survey was sent to employees of 22 Dutch universities and medical centers. Questions were asked about scientifically inappropriate behavior and the factors that could possibly influence it. In total, Bouter sent over 63,000 surveys and got a response rate of 21%.
Science Minister Ingrid van Engeloven called the results “worrying” and “an important signal” that something is wrong with science. The minister said she wanted to discuss with the universities how to resolve the problem. “Shouldn’t we value the work of scientists differently? She asked herself. “So that they are not paid only for the number of publications but also for what they contribute to research, education and their impact on society.”
Participants were allowed to answer the most sensitive questions anonymously. “This technique is also used in investigations into doping in sport and social security abuses. This leads to a two to three times higher percentage of people admitting to breaking the rules, ”Bouter said.
Bouter stressed that the investigation reflected the actions of individuals and not on Dutch science as a whole. However, it is unlikely that the number of scientists who commit fraud is actually lower. “In any case, they will not be much lower because I cannot imagine that the respondents have admitted mistakes that they did not make,” thought Bouter.