dati non in accordo con le proprie idee configura il reato
di 'soppressione', che è diffamante e punibile, dovrebbe per
contro essere punibile (per diffamazione) anche chi muove ingiustamente tale accusa verso un ricercatore onesto.
Eppure, in Italia, assistiamo proprio a continue ed abituali
accuse di questo genere nei confronti degli archeologi,
spesso disegnati come perfidi artefici di un complotto tutti insieme.
falsari, dei contraffattori e dei fabbricatori di evidenze archeologiche false (tu sai a chi mi riferisco precisamente,
vero, Pasuco?), che lo usano per spacciarsi per paladini
della Vera Scienza, calpestata con spregio dagli improbi.
Pubblicazioni che pubblicano materiale discutibile e
di chi le finanzia.
sono certamente alcuni problemi ben più urgenti di questo.
Si noterà che la Medicina offre anch'essa i suoi agnelli sacrificali: neurologi, psichiatri, psicologi etc. e credo che alcuni volontari siano già disponibili in Italia (isole comprese).
Scientific misconduct is the violation of the standard codes of scholarly conduct and ethical behavior in
professional scientific research. A Lancet review on Handling of Scientific Misconduct in Scandinavian
countries provides the following sample definitions: (reproduced in The COPE report 1999.)
Danish definition: "Intention or gross negligence leading to fabrication of the scientific message or a false credit or emphasis given to a scientist"
Swedish definition: "Intention[al] distortion of the research process by fabrication of data, text,
hypothesis, or methods from another researcher's manuscript form or publication; or distortion of the
research process in other ways.
Italian definition: "seems to still be lost somewhere on the way of translation".
The consequences of scientific misconduct can be damaging for both perpetrators and any individual
who exposes it. In addition there are public health implications attached to the promotion of medical
or other interventions based on dubious research findings.
According to David Goodstein of Caltech, there are motivators for scientists to commit misconduct, which are
briefly summarised here.
Science is still a very strongly career-driven discipline. Scientists depend on a good reputation
to receive ongoing support and funding, and a good reputation relies largely on the publication
of high-profile scientific papers. Hence, there is a strong imperative to "publish or perish". Clearly,
this may motivate desperate (or fame-hungry) scientists to fabricate results.
To this category may also be added a paranoia that there are other scientists out there who are close
to success in the same experiment, which puts extra pressure on being the first one. It is suggested as
a cause of the fraud of Hwang Woo-Suk. A main source of detection comes when other research
teams in fact fail or get different results.
Ease of fabrication
In many scientific fields, results are often difficult to reproduce accurately, being obscured by
noise, artifacts, and other extraneous data. That means that even if a scientist does falsify data, he
can expect to get away with it or at least claim innocence if his results conflict with others in the
same field. There are no "scientific police" who are trained to fight scientific crimes; all investigations
are made by experts in science but amateurs in dealing with criminals. It is relatively easy to cheat
although difficult to know exactly how many scientists fabricate data.
The U.S. National Science Foundation defines three types of research misconduct: fabrication, falsification,
Fabrication is making up results and recording or reporting them. This is sometimes referred to as
"drylabbing". A more minor form of fabrication is where references are included to give arguments the
appearance of widespread acceptance, but are actually fake, and/or do not support the argument.
Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes or changing or omitting data or
results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.
Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving
appropriate credit. One form is the appropriation of the ideas and results of others, and publishing as to
make it appear the author had performed all the work under which the data was obtained. A subset is
citation plagiarism willful or negligent failure to appropriately credit other or prior discoverers, so as to
give an improper impression of priority. This is also known as, "citation amnesia", the "disregard syndrome"
and "bibliographic negligence" Arguably,
this is the most common type of scientific misconduct. Sometimes it is difficult to guess whether authors
intentionally ignored a highly relevant cite or lacked knowledge of the prior work. Discovery credit
can also be inadvertently reassigned from the original discoverer to a better-known researcher. This is a
special case of the Matthew effect.
-Plagiarism-Fabrication - the act of taking an unrelated figure from an unrelated publication and
reproducing it exactly in a new publication (claiming that it represents new data). Recent papers from
the University of Cordoba have come to light showing how this can go undetected and unchallenged
-Self-plagiarism or multiple publication of the same content with different titles and/or in different
journals is sometimes also considered misconduct; scientific journals explicitly ask authors not to do this.
It is referred to as "salami" (i.e. many identical slices) in the jargon of medical journal editors (MJE).
According to some MJE this includes publishing the same article in a different language.
The violation of ethical standards regarding human and animal experiments such as the standard that
a human subject of the experiment must give informed consent to the experiment. Failure to obtain
ethical approval for clinical studies characterised the case of Joachim Boldt.
Ghostwriting the phenomenon where someone other than the named author(s) makes a major contribution.
Typically, this is done to mask contributions from drug companies. It incorporates plagiarism and has an
additional element of financial fraud.
Conversely, research misconduct is not limited to NOT listing authorship, but also includes the conferring
authorship on those that have not made substantial contributions to the research. This is done by
senior researchers who muscle their way onto the papers of inexperienced junior researchers as well as
others that stack authorship in an effort to guarantee publication. This is much harder to prove due to a lack
of consistency in defining "authorship" or "substantial contribution".
In addition, some academics consider suppression the failure to publish significant findings due to the
being adverse to the interests of the researcher or his/her sponsor(s) to be a form of misconduct as well.
** Bare assertions making entirely unsubstantiated claims - may also be considered a form of research
although there is no evidence that cases of this form have ever led to a finding of misconduct.
In some cases, scientific misconduct may also constitute violations of the law, but not always. Being accused
of the activities described in this article is a serious matter for a practicing scientist, with severe consequences
should it be determined that a researcher intentionally or carelessly engaged in misconduct. However in most countries, committing research misconduct, even on a large scale, is not a legal offence.
Three percent of the 3,475 research institutions that report to the US Department of Health and Human
Services' Office of Research Integrity, indicate some form of scientific misconduct. However the ORI
will only investigate allegations of impropriety where research was funded by federal grants. They routinely
monitor such research publication for red flags. Other private organizations like the Committee of Medical
Journal Editors (COJE) can only police their own members.
The validity of the methods and results of scientific papers are often scrutinized in journal clubs. In this venue, members can decide amongst themselves with the help of peers if a scientific paper's ethical standards are met.
Authors and coauthors of scientific publications have a variety of responsibilities. Contravention of the rules
of scientific authorship may lead to a charge of scientific misconduct. All authors, including coauthors,
are expected to have made reasonable attempts to check findings submitted to academic journals for
publication. Simultaneous submission of scientific findings to more than one journal or duplicate publication
of findings is usually regarded as misconduct, under what is known as the Ingelfinger rule, named after the
editor of the New England Journal of Medicine 1967-1977, Franz Ingelfinger.
Guest authorship (where there is stated authorship in the absence of involvement, also known as gift authorship)
and ghost authorship (where the real author is not listed as an author) are commonly regarded as forms of
research misconduct. In some cases coauthors of faked research have been accused of inappropriate behavior
or research misconduct for failing to verify reports authored by others or by a commercial sponsor. Examples
include the case of Gerald Schatten who co-authored with Hwang Woo-Suk, the case of Professor Geoffrey Chamberlain named as guest author of papers fabricated by Malcolm Pearce, (Chamberlain was exonerated
from collusion in Pearce's deception) - and the coauthors with Jan Hendrik Sch n at Bell Laboratories. More
recent cases include that of Charles Nemeroff, then the editor-in-chief of Neuropsychopharmacology, and
a well-documented case involving the drug Actonel.
Authors are expected to keep all study data for later examination even after publication. The failure to keep
data may be regarded as misconduct. Some scientific journals require that authors provide information to
allow readers to determine whether the authors might have commercial or non-commercial conflicts of interest. Authors are also commonly required to provide information about ethical aspects of research, particularly
where research involves human or animal participants or use of biological material. Provision of incorrect
information to journals may be regarded as misconduct. Financial pressures on universities have encouraged
this type of misconduct. The majority of recent cases of alleged misconduct involving undisclosed conflicts
of interest or failure of the authors to have seen scientific data involve collaborative research between scientists
and biotechnology companies (Nemeroff, Blumsohn).
In general, defining whether an individual is guilty of misconduct requires a detailed investigation by the
individual's employing academic institution. Such investigations require detailed and rigorous processes
and can be extremely costly. Furthermore, the more senior the individual under suspicion, the more likely it
is that conflicts of interest will compromise the investigation. In many countries (with the notable exception
of the United States) acquisition of funds on the basis of fraudulent data is not a legal offence and there is consequently no regulator to oversee investigations into alleged research misconduct. Universities therefore
have few incentives to investigate allegations in a robust manner, or act on the findings of such investigations
if they vindicate the allegation.
Well publicised cases illustrate the potential role that senior academics in research institutions play in
concealing scientific misconduct. A King's College (London) internal investigation showed research findings
from one of their researchers to be 'at best unreliable, and in many cases spurious'  but the college took
no action e.g. retracting relevant published research, or preventing further episodes from occurring. It was only
10 years later, when an entirely separate form of misconduct by the same individual was being investigated
by the General Medical Council, that the internal report came to light.
In a more recent case an internal investigation at the National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune
determined that there was evidence of misconduct by Dr. Gopal Kundu, but an external committee was then
organised which dismissed the allegation, and the NCCS issued a memorandum exonerating the authors of
all charges of misconduct. Undeterred by the NCCS exoneration, the relevant journal (Journal of Biological Chemistry) withdrew the paper based on its own analysis.
Some academics believe that scientific colleagues who suspect scientific misconduct should consider taking
informal action themselves, or reporting their concerns. This question is of great importance since much
research suggests that it is very difficult for people to act or come forward when they see unacceptable behavior,
unless they have help from their organizations. A "User-friendly Guide," and the existence of a confidential organizational ombudsman may help people who are uncertain about what to do, or afraid of bad
consequences for their speaking up.
Journals are responsible for safeguarding the research record and hence have a critical role in dealing with suspected misconduct. This is recognised by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) which has issued clear guidelines on the form (e.g. retraction) that concerns over the research record should take.
Recent evidence has emerged that journals learning of cases where there is strong evidence of possible
misconduct, with issues potentially affecting a large portion of the findings, frequently fail to issue an expression
of concern or correspond with the host institution so that an investigation can be undertaken. In one case the
Journal of Clinical Oncology issued a Correction despite strong evidence that the original paper was invalid.
In another case, Nature allowed a Corrigendum to be published despite clear evidence of image fraud.
Subsequent Retraction of the paper required the actions of an independent whistleblower.
The recent cases of Joachim Boldt and Yoshitaka Fujii in anaesthesiology have focussed attention on the
role that journals play in perpetuating scientific fraud as well as how they can deal with it. In the Boldt case, the Editors-in-Chief of 18 specialist journals (generally anaesthesia and intensive care) made a joint statement
regarding 88 published clinical trials conducted without Ethics Committee approval. In the Fujii case, involving nearly 200 papers, the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia, which published 24 of Fujii's papers, has accepted that
its handling of the issue was inadequate. Following publication of a Letter to the Editor from Kranke and
colleagues in April 2000, along with a non-specific response from Dr. Fujii, there was no follow-up on the allegation of data manipulation and no request for an institutional review of Dr. Fujii's research. Anesthesia & Analgesia went on to publish 11 additional manuscripts by Dr. Fujii following the 2000 allegations of research
fraud, with Editor Steven Shafer stating in March 2012 that subsequent submissions to the Journal by Dr.
Fujii should not have been published without first vetting the allegations of fraud. In April 2012 Shafer led a
group of editors to write a joint statement, in the form of an ultimatum made available to the public, to a
large number of academic institutions where Fujii had been employed, offering these institutions the chance
to attest to the integrity of the bulk of the allegedly fraudulent papers.
Compared to other forms of scientific misconduct, image fraud (manipulation of images to distort their meaning)
is of particular interest since it can frequently be detected by external parties. In 2006, the Journal of Cell Biology gained publicity for instituting tests to detect photo manipulation in papers that were being considered for publication. This was in response to the increased usage of programs by scientists such as Adobe Photoshop,
which facilitate photo manipulation. Since then more publishers, including the Nature Publishing Group, have instituted similar tests and require authors to minimize and specify the extent of photo manipulation when a manuscript is submitted for publication. However there is little evidence to indicate that such tests are applied rigorously. One Nature paper published in 2009 has subsequently been reported to contain around 20 separate instances of image fraud.
Although the type of manipulation that is allowed can depend greatly on the type of experiment that is presented
and also differ from one journal to another, in general the following manipulations are not allowed:
A related issue concerns the deliberate suppression, failure to publish, or selective release of the findings of
scientific studies. Such cases may not be strictly definable as scientific misconduct as the deliberate falsification
of results is not present. However, in such cases the intent may nevertheless be to deliberately deceive. Studies
may be suppressed or remain unpublished because the findings are perceived to undermine the commercial,
political or other interests of the sponsoring agent or because they fail to support the ideological goals of the researcher. Examples include the failure to publish studies if they demonstrate the harm of a new drug, or
truthfully publishing the benefits of a treatment while omitting harmful side-effects.
This is distinguishable from other concepts such as bad science, junk science or pseudoscience where the
criticism centres on the methodology or underlying assumptions. It may be possible in some cases to use
statistical methods to show that the datasets offered in relation to a given field are incomplete. However this
may simply reflect the existence of real-world restrictions on researchers without justifying more sinister
Some cases go beyond the failure to publish complete reports of all findings with researchers knowingly making
false claims based on falsified data. This falls clearly under the definition of scientific misconduct, even if
the result was achieved by suppressing data. In the case of Raphael B. Stricker, M.D., for instance, the U.S.
Office of Research Integrity has found the removal of samples from a data set in order to reach a desired
conclusion to be grounds for disbarment from funding.
The consequences of scientific fraud vary based on the severity of the fraud, the level of notice it receives, and
how long it goes undetected. For cases of fabricated evidence, the consequences can be wide ranging, with
others working to confirm (or refute) the false finding, or with research agendas being distorted to address the fraudulent evidence. The Piltdown Man fraud is a case in point: The significance of the bona-fide fossils' being
found was muted for decades because they disagreed with Piltdown Man and the pre-conceived notions that
those faked fossils supported. In addition, the prominent paleontologist Arthur Smith Woodward spent time at Piltdown each year until he died trying to find more Piltdown Man remains. The misdirection of resources kept
others from taking the real fossils more seriously and delayed the reaching of a correct understanding of human evolution. (The Taung Child, which should have been the death knell for the view that the human brain evolved
first, was instead treated very critically because of its disagreement with the Piltdown Man evidence.)
In the case of Dr Alfred Steinschneider, two decades and tens of millions of research dollars were lost trying to
find the elusive link between infant sleep apnea, that Steinschneider said he had observed and recorded in his laboratory and claimed was a precursor of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The cover was blown in 1994,
22 years after Steinschneider's 1972 Pediatrics paper claiming such an association, when Waneta Hoyt, the
mother of the patients in the paper, was arrested, indicted and convicted on 5 counts of second degree
manslaughter for the smothering deaths of her five children. While that in itself was bad enough, the paper, presumably written as an attempt in trying to save infants' lives, ironically was ultimately used as a defense in
cases where parents were suspected in multiple deaths of their own children in cases of M nchausen syndrome
by proxy. The 1972 Pediatrics' paper was cited by 404 papers in the interim and is still listed on Pubmed
The potentially severe consequences for individuals who are found to have engaged in misconduct also reflect
on the institutions that host or employ them and also on the participants in any peer review process that has
allowed the publication of questionable research. This means that a range of actors in any case may have a
motivation to suppress any evidence or suggestion of misconduct. Persons who expose such cases, commonly
called whistleblowers, can find themselves open to retaliation by a number of different means. These
negative consequences for exposers of misconduct have driven the development of whistle blowers charters -
designed to protect those who raise concerns. A whistleblower is almost always alone in his fight - his career
becomes completely dependent on the decision about alleged misconduct. If the accusations prove false, his
career is completely destroyed, but even in case of positive decision the career of the whistleblower can be
under question: his reputation of "troublemaker" will prevent many employers from hiring him. There is no international body where a whistleblower could give his concerns. If a university fails to investigate suspected
fraud or provides a fake investigation to save their reputation the whistleblower has no right of appeal. High
profile journals like Nature and Science usually forward all allegations to the university where the authors
are employed, or may do nothing at all.
With the advancement of the internet, there are now several tools available to aid in the detection of plagiarism
and multiple publication within biomedical literature. One tool developed in 2006 by researchers in Dr. Harold Garner's laboratory at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas is D j Vu, an open-
access database containing several thousand instances of duplicate publication. All of the entries in the database
were discovered through the use of text data mining algorithm eTBLAST, also created in Dr. Garner's laboratory.
The creation of D j Vu and the subsequent classification of several hundred articles contained therein have
ignited much discussion in the scientific community concerning issues such as ethical behavior, journal standards, and intellectual copyright. Studies on this database have been published in journals such as Nature and Science, among others.
Other tools which may be used to detect fraudulent data include error analysis. Measurements generally have a
small amount of error, and repeated measurements of the same item will generally result in slight differences in readings. These differences can be analyzed, and follow certain known mathematical and statistical properties.
Should a set of data appear to be too faithful to the hypothesis, i.e., the amount of error that would normally be
in such measurements does not appear, a conclusion can be drawn that the data may have been forged. Error
analysis alone is typically not sufficient to prove that data have been falsified or fabricated, but it may provide
the supporting evidence necessary to confirm suspicions of misconduct.
Kirby Lee and Lisa Bero suggest, "Although reviewing raw data can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive, having such a policy would hold authors more accountable for the accuracy of their data and potentially reduce scientific fraud or misconduct."
David Copolov ,psychiatrist and Pro Vice Chancellor of Monash University was found to have plagiarized from
Oliver Wendell Holmes in his valedictory address in 2012. The incidence was reported in the respected journal
circa due anni fa Diederik Stapel (noto ed influente psicologo sociale) fu sospeso dall' universita'
a Tilburg per miscondotta scientifica. Un piccolo gruppo di postdoc, dopo aver sospettato che ci
fosse qualcosa di strano nei suoi metodi di ricerca, ha raccolto per mesi prove della sua miscondotta
per poterlo denunciare al rettore di Tilburg.
Dopo un anno di indagini, e' ormai chiaro che Stapel abbia torturato, manipolato, e fabbricato dati
per diversi anni, dando luce a quasi un centinaio di pubblicazioni basate su dati manipolati o
fabbricati per intero, decine di tesi di dottorato macchiate o fabbricate anch'esse per intero su dati inesistenti.
Per sua stessa ammissione Stapel ha descritto la sua condotta scientifica grigia quando era ad Amsterdam (pubblicava articoli nascondendo alcune DV o a le condizioni sperimentali, oppure rimuoveva risultati scomodi dal dataset senza dichiararlo), nera quando era a Groningen (manipolazione dei dati e creazione di dati fasulli), e delirante quando era a Tilburg (creazione
manuale di dataset, bugie a tutte spiano a collaboratori e studenti etc.).
Questo e' il report finale dell'indagine,
vi consiglio di leggerlo, e' molto interessante