Direct Yearly Cost of Scientific Misconduct in the United States May Exceed $100 Million USD
It’s a sad fact that scientific misconduct not only exists, but is rather common. From refusing to share original research data as agreed prior to publication, to technical medical editors who are indifferent to plagiarism, misconduct is swirling all around the scientific enterprise.
Scientific misconduct extends into active fraud as well. According to one study, over 14% of biomedical and clinical scientists have witnessed fraud, although less than 2% admit to having committed it themselves.
Such behavior affects more than the scientists directly involved. Other scientists may waste a lot of time and effort on research programs based on fraudulent results (think of all the scientists who tried to reproduce and build upon the research of physicist Jan Hendrik Schön on carbon-based electronics), and public health may be harmed if medical advice is based on false premises.
Scientific misconduct surely also costs a lot of money, both directly (e.g. investigative costs) and indirectly (e.g. lost grant money). Estimating the cost of scientific misconduct will underscore the necessity of efforts aimed at stamping it out early before it happens.
Furthermore, scientific research costs tons of money in the first place. We should be figuring out how to use this money most effectively, and reducing fraud is a worthwhile approach.
Arthur Michalek (Roswell Park Cancer Institute, United States) and coworkers are among the first scientists to develop a scientific model of the cost of scientific research misconduct. They conservatively estimate that direct costs in the United States alone are in excess of $100 million USD each year.