Fraud and Intentional Deception in Scientific and Academic Research
‘Oh what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive.’
(Sir Walter Scott, ‘Marmion’)
Instances of fraud in academic and scientific research are on the rise. Whether this trend is attributed to publishing competition and pressures, problematic reward systems for scholarly work, current technologies that make fraudulent practices so easy or similar technologies that render the detection of research fraud more effective, the consequences are disastrous. Discovery lies at the heart of scientific and academic research, and fraudulent results that have been fabricated or falsified for publication completely undermine this ideal. Researchers must be able to rely on the work of their colleagues and peers as authentic and factual research that can be used, cited, replicated and developed. When fraudulent work is disseminated and read as serious research, time and funds are often wasted not only by publishing teams, but also by other researchers as they pursue, sometimes repeatedly, what will ultimately prove the unprofitable paths indicated by the fraudulent research – time and funds that could have been better spent conducting research of real value for resolving genuine problems. When research fraud is detected in published documents, retractions and other disciplinary actions usually ensue, and publications that relied on the fraudulent data may become as redundant and even as tarnished as the publication that created the problem.
To make matters worse, in some cases (such as research related to public health or social programmes) the problems under investigation are serious issues that affect real lives and communities. There have been in recent years some truly abhorrent instances of fraud in academic and scientific research that have demonstrated a complete disregard not just for research integrity and scholarly standards, but for society as a whole and particularly those individuals whose lives might instead have been improved by honest investigators engaged in authentic research. The publicity surrounding the worst cases of fraud in academic and scientific research casts a poor light on all professional researchers, but one that might prove constructive in the long run if it successfully calls attention to the seriousness of fraudulent research practices and reminds academics and scientists of some of the many compelling reasons why it is so imperative to avoid fraud in their own research.
Although definitions of fraud in academic and scientific research vary, there are two activities that always arise in discussions of research fraud:
1. The fabrication of research processes, data or results in formally published academic and scientific documents. This might involve adding only a few fabricated results from a single experiment that was never actually done in order to support genuine results that would not on their own make a persuasive case for a researcher’s hypothesis or argument. On the other hand, an entire research project could be fabricated, with the methodology, results, figures, tables and other elements of the publication created in a fictional way or borrowed and adapted from other sources, but none of the research and analysis actually done by the author or authors who publish it.
2. The falsification of research processes, data or results in formally published academic and scientific documents. Instead of completely making up or combining borrowed bits of information, perpetrators guilty of falsifying research data usually alter (sometimes a little; sometimes considerably) or otherwise ‘cook’ the results they obtain through their genuine research in order to arrive at findings more in line with an immediate goal. That goal may be to support a particular hypothesis, fit the publication preferences of a high-impact journal or meet the needs of a private funding body, with images and other evidence being manipulated to achieve the desired results.
Plagiarism is often discussed along with these forms of fraud in academic and scientific research, and rightly so. Plagiarism is borrowing or stealing the words, ideas, data, images, results, interpretations, argument or other intellectual property of another author or researcher without properly acknowledging it. Whether the theft is intentional or not, it is still plagiarism, but when plagiarism is intentional, it is a form of fraud – consciously and deliberately publishing the work of another under the fraudulent assumption that it is your own work. Intention is a key issue in the other two kinds of fraud I describe above as well. Although it may seem impossible to fabricate or falsify research data unintentionally, many a researcher accused of fraud has claimed that no deception was intended and the misconduct detected in their work was accidental, specifically the result of errors, excessive zeal, negligence or inexperienced students and assistants. In some cases the claims might be true: images may be manipulated, for instance, with the primary goal of improving the clarity of findings for readers, but with the unintentional effect of misleading them. This kind of defence makes for slippery ground, however, since academic and scientific authors are responsible for the integrity and validity of every aspect of the research they publish. Safer ground lies beneath the feet of those researchers who remain honest and conscientious in their work, following the ethical guidelines of their institutions and publishers to produce authentic research that will have immediate and lasting value for editors, readers and society as a whole.
Why Our Editing and Proofreading Services?
At proofreading services we pride ourselves on the exceptionally dedicated team of academic and scientific professionals who provide our English editing and proofreading services. Our editors and proofreaders are highly educated native speakers of English who have undergone rigorous training in expert editing practices, and their fields of study and specialisation range so widely that we are able to help our clients improve and polish research manuscripts of all kinds for successful publication. Many members of our research paper editing and proofreading team focus on journal editing, manuscript editing, scientific manuscript editing, academic proofreading, academic editing, dissertation proofreading services, professional proofreading, thesis editing services and scientific proofreading, assisting authors with articles that will be submitted to scientific and academic journals by ensuring that the formatting and references in their manuscripts conform to the relevant guidelines with precision and by correcting grammar, punctuation, spelling and typing errors to enable the clear and accurate communication of original research that acquisitions editors expect in publishable papers.
Our scientific editing, medical editing, bioscience editing, life science editing, environmental science editing, pharmaceutical science editing, physical science editing, agricultural science editing, LaTeX paper editing, social science editing, political science editing, engineering paper editing, psychology editing, research paper editing, manuscript editing, humanities editing, journal article editing, biomedical science editing, planetary science editing, plant science editing, material science editing, veterinary science editing, behavioural science editing and neurosurgery editing services for authors of scientific papers and reports are especially popular, but we also excel at book editing and have the experience and expertise to proofread and edit books and papers of all kinds across every scholarly discipline. Some of our carefully trained editors and proofreaders work exclusively on PhD thesis editing, master’s dissertation proofreading, bachelor’s dissertation proofreading, thesis editing, dissertation editing, thesis proofreading and dissertation proofreading, applying their education and instructional skills in providing thesis editing and dissertation proofreading services that help advanced students to improve the formatting and language of their theses and dissertations and thereby increase their chances of degree success. Whether you are preparing a conference or class presentation, putting the final touches to a professional report for colleagues or tackling the challenging task of editing any kind of academic or scientific document for publication, a qualified member of our outstanding proofreading and editing team will be delighted to provide proofreading and editing services and boost your confidence in your written work.
If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.
We also offer the following services:
Journal Article Editing
Research Paper Editing
Grant Application Editing
Conference Paper Editing
Agricultural Science Editing
Chemistry Paper Editing
Environmental Science Editing
LaTeX Paper Editing Services
Life Science Editing
Material Science Editing
Medical Editing Services
Pharmaceutical Science Editing
Physical Sciences Editing
Planetary Science Editing
Plant Science Editing
Sports Science Editing
Veterinary Science Editing
Social Sciences Editing Services
Behavioural Science Editing
History Paper Editing
Management Studies Editing
Political Science Editing
Engineering Paper Editing
Law Paper Editing
PhD Thesis Editing
Master’s Dissertation Editing
Bachelor’s Dissertation Editing
Thesis Editing Services
Dissertation Editing Services
Thesis Proofreading Services
Dissertation Proofreading Services