Scientific fraud and reproducibility crisis: what role for research ethics?
Steen, R. Grant
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If science is self-correcting--as most scientists maintain--why would anyone fabricate data? The fraudulent scientist should surely know that their fraud will be found out. This may explain why actual data fabrication remains rare. But is it possible that some fraudulent scientists don't set out to be fraudulent--or perhaps don't realize that what they're doing is fraud? Perhaps, some scientists become so devoted to an idea that they think of it as a proven truth, not a testable hypothesis. Certainly, it's a hard lesson that the best scientists strive to disprove a favored hypothesis. I see research ethics as a hedge against human fallibility. Rigorous adherence to the norms of scientific practice prevents a hurried scientist from committing fraud, but it also prevents a biased scientist from making inadvertent errors that may ultimately be more damaging.