It was bound to happen; a study of the researchers who conduct studies. Unfortunately, the results of this study indicate that the integrity of many others may be compromised by questionable conduct on the part of one or more of the researchers.
The survey involved 3,247 scientists (out of about 8,000 who were asked to respond) who were based in the United States and who had received funding from the National Institutes of Health. Most of the participants were studying biology, medicine, chemistry, or the social sciences. A smaller number were involved in math, physics, or engineering.
About 33% of the participants in the survey stated that, within the previous three years, they had engaged in at least one practice that could get them into trouble. The types of questionable conduct included circumventing minor aspect of rules for doing research on people (8%) and ignoring another researcher’s use of flawed data or questionable interpretation of data (about 13%).
Less than 2% admitted falsifying data, plagiarism, or ignoring major aspects of rules governing studies with human subjects. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), almost 16% admitted they had changed the designs, methods, or results of a study “in response to pressure from a funding source.”