Research misconduct is a serious problem that threatens the entire academic and research enterprise by undermining public trust, thereby jeopardizing public funding. The Office of Research Integrity of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services defines research misconduct as "fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results." Various studies (1-3) have attempted to quantify the cost of research misconduct, but the original misconduct is only a part of the problem. Fraudulent research published in otherwise reputable journals can have a life of its own, being cited by many other researchers or even forming the basis of honest researchers' work. Perpetuating fraudulent research in this way is itself a form of research misconduct.
Publishers and government funding agencies take research misconduct in all its forms very seriously. Publishers will retract articles in which research misconduct has been detected, signaling that the research is not to be trusted. Government funding agencies, on the other hand, can impose sanctions on individual researchers or on entire institutions, ranging from letters of reprimand all the way to prohibiting any further participation in sponsored programs (see, for example, 45 CFR § 689.3).
Various studies show that it can be extremely difficult to recognize fraudulent research. Nevertheless, there are several steps you can take to avoid fraudulent research papers.
The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations defines plagiarism as "the appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit" (45 CFR § 689.1). Plagiarism is a common form of research misconduct, yet it is very easy to avoid by following these three simple steps;
For more information on citing your sources see: