Common characteristics of scientific fraud or misconduct
October 15, 2009 2:19 PM   Subscribe

Article or book that discusses common characteristics of scientific fraud or misconduct?

Several years ago I read an article, essay, or book chapter that listed common factors in many uncovered cases of scientific misconduct. One was that subjects typically acted alone; conspiracy was extremely unusual. Another was that researchers generally believed that the faked data represented the truth and would be confirmed if more time or resources were available.

Does anybody know what I was reading?
posted by Mapes to Science & Nature (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Gah, I have a book just like this at home. I will followup later on.
posted by GuyZero at 2:21 PM on October 15, 2009


Betrayers of the truth by William Broad.
posted by Wet Spot at 2:24 PM on October 15, 2009


This is probably too recent, but Ben Goldacre's book Bad Science (mainly about medical science and its reporting, mainly in Britain) contains stuff about this--problems with the research itself, problems with the way it's reported. The book is a spinoff from his blog, which is made up of his articles for the Guardian newspaper. The forums on his site include discussions of specific cases.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 4:26 PM on October 15, 2009


Though the content is similar, I haven't found this exact analysis in Betrayers of the Truth (nor in the similarly themed and named The Great Betrayal).
posted by Mapes at 5:00 PM on October 16, 2009


A few links I have bookmarked about science and fraud, maybe of interest...

An Unwelcome Discovery - New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/22/magazine/22sciencefraud.html?ei=5090&en=f03f2cdfd86fd0a9&ex=1319169600&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

BBC NEWS | UK | Magazine | The pressure to hoax
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/5181008.stm
posted by Boobus Tuber at 10:56 AM on October 25, 2009


Perhaps was it Bad Science - The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion? Great book, especially the normal curve of # of experiementers vs. technical competence.
posted by benzenedream at 11:21 PM on October 27, 2009


I picked up Bad Science, and it was indeed a great book, but didn't include the material I was looking for, unfortunately. Still looking...
posted by Mapes at 2:10 PM on November 15, 2009


I have a few books in my collection which could possibly be the answer (or at least help discover the answer). Unfortunately they are not accessible to me right now. I will have a look at some point over the next few days. In the mean time, one possibility off the top of my head is The Golem: What You Should Know About Science by Collins and Pinch. Even if not what you're looking for it's a fascinating read.
posted by jonnyploy at 3:59 PM on January 4, 2010


Ah, just found it: it's David Goodstein's essay Conduct and Misconduct in Science. I was wrong about the first criterion I mentioned (that the individual always acts alone); this may have made it harder to identify what I had read. Thanks to all who offered suggestions!
posted by Mapes at 3:14 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


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