It never actually occurred to me what it takes to falsify a report. I mean, I suppose in the back of my head I knew, or if I had really thought about it I would have known, but when I think of plagiarism or falsification of data I think of uncited/unfounded assertions being made in the body of an article or essay. I think of selection biases, discarding, or ignoring information. I think of information that is based on fact, but distorted someway portrayed as fact.
What I didn’t think of was photoshopping images. Duplicating, scaling, messing with contrast ratios to present a false representation of scholarly information. Now, I’m not totally naive, I know photoshopping images, or falsifying images happens all the time, but I always think of it in the context of the National Enquirer. “Bat Boy Found in Cave!” with the face of a weird looking Eddy Munster type child, or “Loch Ness Monster Eats Dog” accompanied by a plesiosaur with a collar hanging from its tooth. I consider it when looking through Facebook, or news sites because I’ve learned they are often not to be trusted. But with scholarly publications, I don’t consider it nearly as much.
I don’t really think of it in falsifying figures and graphs as well. Manipulating them to a point to make small margin look larger, sure. Don’t all graphs do that? But straight up falsifying figures, I feel takes a special kind of audacity.
Also, as stated before, I think of falsification or plagiarism in the body of essays or articles, not in grant applications. I’ve never filled out a grant request, so maybe that’s why it never occurred to me.
The punishment also surprised me. I always imagined the plagiarist that gets caught to be publically humiliated, shamed, ostracized, and banned from the community. However, he was just handed a kind of research probation that lasts only three years. Doesn’t seem so bad. If he had falsified data in something more that a grant application maybe the punishment would be more severe? I’m not sure. I can’t get over the