Paper disputes causes of research misconduct

The pressure to publish high-profile papers may not be linked to research misconduct, a new study has found.

June 14, 2015

Instead productive researchers with high-impact papers and those working in countries were the pressure to publish is intense are less likely to produce retracted papers and are more likely to correct them.

The findings are reported on the Retraction Watch blog ahead of the research paper being published in journal PLOS ONE on 17 June.

A group of researchers led by Daniele Fanelli, senior research scientist in the Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford University, looked back at retractions and corrections to see how much influence perceived risk factors had.

They found no support for the idea men might be more prone to misconduct. “[T]he widespread belief that pressures to publish are a major driver of misconduct was largely contradicted,” the paper says, according to the blog post.

But they did find that some factors were associated with a higher rate of misconduct, including a lack of research integrity policy and cash rewards for individual publication performance.

“[O]ur results suggest that policies to reduce pressures to publish might be, as currently conceived, ineffective, whereas establishing policies and structures to handle allegations of scientific misconduct, promoting transparency and mutual criticism between colleagues, and bolstering training and mentoring of young researchers might best protect the integrity of future science,” the paper adds.

holly.else@tesglobal.com

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