Science Fraud

2001, Science  -  33 min Leave a Comment
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Most of what occurs in the practice of science goes on behind closed doors, beyond the prying eye of the public. Nevertheless science and the scientists who conduct its research seem to enjoy an almost religious-like reverence, having been granted a virtual hands-off policy by the public at large to advance and mold the future.

Against this backdrop however, science is increasingly accused of fraud in the pursuit of useful research findings, applications and profits. Scientists like the rest of us try to cut corners, get the papers published, have their ideas for research funded, compete with co-professionals, and vie for glory. It is alleged by many that science fraud is commonplace in a society driven by money and ambition. To be sure science is not a career for the faint of heart. On the contrary science is an aggressive, ruthless business.

Still the practitioners and institutions of science are accused of going beyond mere ambition in the eternal quest for knowledge. Our researchers pressured by the need to produce are venturing beyond the boundaries of honest science into the forbidden territory of science fraud. Despite this revered social standing, scientists are now more than ever motivated toward the falsification of research in pursuit of hefty corporate grants or public recognition. The scientific process has changed greatly over the years. For the scientist the pressure of obtaining funding, which often is tied to professional advancement, is coming both internally from the employer and externally from the grant giving bodies.

Modern science is a large-scale enterprise heavily funded and highly directed. Its dominant players are large corporations and the US government, both of whom have definite stakes in the outcome of any given research. In the mainstream media of today, tales of science fraud abound. Further complicating these financial challenges, season-scientists find themselves competing for finite funds in a glutted field, going up against much younger comparatively inexperienced practitioners. This competition for grants, status, position and money makes the temptation to veer away from the straight and narrow almost irresistible.