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Science plagiarism a booming business?

Science misconduct is on the rise, and in other surprising news, it’s Monday morning. In “Misconduct on the Rise” (The Scientist , May 21, 2012), Bob Grant reports “Retractions of scientific studies due to plagiarism, falsification, and other instances of researchers behaving badly have skyrocketed in the past decade”“

A couple of years ago, iThenticate helped determine that plagiarism was a far more common occurrence in the scientific literature than anyone expected, and the new report confirms that finding with some standout figures: retractions have increased tenfold over the past decade, 1 in 3 scientists admits to questionable research practices, and $110 million was spent on misconduct investigations in the United States in 2010.

The infographic is striking.

One question this raises is, was plagiarism always this common, but only recently easy to detect, using machine methods? One can argue the case either way.

In the 19th century, many children probably died of deliberate poisoning, undetected. The advent of the autopsy made deliberate poisoning a risky affair. In the early days of the autopsy, it must have seemed that cases were skyrocketing – until the message got out that forensic science was onto this.

On the other hand, to the extent that research today can seem like a high stakes poker game and many endorse cheating in a good cause, … you pretty much have to have a transcendent view of truth to stay honest.

See also: “Noble cause” corruption: It’s okay to lie, even in science … ?

Hat tip: Pos-Darwinista

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One Response to Science plagiarism a booming business?

  1. Is scientific fraud rampant? Well science is a human endeavor, subject to egotism, like someone trying to be the next Copernicus. If you spent ten years of your life trying to prove this or that theory, the temptation for mischief could be strong. Or careerism, a government grant can provide a good measure of job security. There is also the fear factor of being ostracized from scientific society.

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