• Nam Nguyen

      By Nam Nguyen
      Research Fraud and Misconduct<=> Research misconduct is de?ned as behaviour by a researcher that falls short of good ethical and scienti?c standards – whether or not this be intentional. For example, the same data may be sent for publication to more than one medical journal, which might have the e?ect of their being counted twice in any META-ANALYSIS or systematic review; or the data may be ‘salami sliced’ to try to make the maximum number of publications, even though the data may overlap. Fraud in the context of research is de?ned as the generation of false data with the intent to deceive. It is much less frequent than carelessness, but its incidence is estimated as between 0.1 and 1 per cent. A figure of 1 per cent means that, in the United Kingdom at any one time, maybe 30 studies are being conducted, or their results published, which could contain false information. Examples include forged ethics-committee approval, patient signatures and diary cards; fabricated ?gures and results; invention of non-existent patient subjects; or sharing one electrocardiogram or blood sample amongst many subjects. Research fraud should be suspected by a clinical-trial monitor who recognises that data are not genuine, or by a quality-assurance auditor who cannot reconcile data in clinical-trial report forms with original patient records. Unfortunately, it often comes to light by chance. There may be suspicious similarities between data ostensibly coming from more than one source, or visits may have been recorded when it was known that the clinic was shut. Statistical analysis of a likely irregularity will frequently con?rm such suspicion. The motivation for fraud is usually greed, but a desire to publish at all costs, to be the original author of a medical breakthrough, to bolster applications for research grants, or to strengthen a bid for more departmental resources are other recognised reasons for committing fraud.