ORI – Misconduct Aftermath and the Need for Replication

As I was reviewing the ORI website, I was surprised by how many of the cases involved falsifying data. I can’t even imagine simply creating or duplicating data, especially in psychology. As I was browsing, most seemed to be related to biology or medical, and I didn’t see any psychological ones (granted, I didn’t read them all). I was glad to see that, although many may not have been reported. Still, I can see plagiarism, data deletion, changes in study design, and inadequate record keeping being more common. This is unfortunate, but I could definitely see it occurring.

To reduce issues, I think replication needs to be more valued and supported. Many studies are not published because “it’s already been done before.” Replication is key to fully understanding psychological phenomena and it really needs to happen more.

What I found most interesting were the consequences for the researchers who engaged in misconduct. For example, one researcher is expected to have research supervised by outside colleagues, a review of any papers, and inability to advise on certain issues. I didn’t see any where a researcher was stated to be fired, but most of it seemed remedial. Also, any articles are retracted. I think this is great, as the researcher may have unknowingly committed the misconduct. I know the reputation of the person will likely be hurt, but rehabilitation versus punishment is probably the best method and it allows learning to occur. At the same time, it begs the question of when punishment (e.g., dismissal, fines) would be appropriate (apparently the Great Pretender – nearly 200 medical studies faked….) and who would decide that.

Category(s): PFP14S

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