May 30, 2024

Scientists can be rascals, say journal editors

Some researchers are up to no good, according to the annual report of the Committee on Publishing Ethics. Although the number of misdemeanours — 29 — is a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands of scientific papers published each year, the committee is drafting a code of ethics which requires editors to report them.

As the Nature News Service commented, “they lie, they cheat and they steal… scientists are no different to the rest of us”. The problem cases included outright plagiarism, outrageous conflicts of interest, lack of proper ethical clearance and printing the same paper twice to boost publication records. According to a 2003 survey of opthalmology journals, at least 1.5% of all papers are duplicates. The most egregious offence was bribery: one researcher offered to buy 1000 reprints from an editor and to shout him a meal at the restaurant of his choice.