Scientific Misconduct: Is It A Tip Of The Iceberg?

  • Rupesh Mukhia


Publication is a showpiece of the findings of the research. Once published, scientific work becomes a source of reference, post publishing review and critique which will influence the future of the publication, science and education in general.1 Hence, the publication should be trusted as accurate with correct methodology, results obtained with relevant data and conclusion. Any deviation from code of good scientific practice is the scientific misconduct.

Although, the integrity and trust is the hallmark of the scientific publication, scientific misconduct is regarded as “just the tip of the iceberg”. 2 Fabrication (invention of data or cases), falsification (willful distortion of data or results) and plagiarism (copying of ideas, data, or words without attribution) are serious forms of scientific misconduct and that many cases are never discovered or ignored. In the first meta-analysis of surveys asking scientists about their experiences of misconduct, it found that, on average, about 2% of scientists admitted to have fabricated, falsified or modified data or results at least once. However the actual frequency of research misconduct is much more prevalent than suggested.2

So how come the respectful image of scientific publication is marred by scientific fraud .The answer is crucial and matter of great concern. What made Hwang Woo-Suk choose a wrong path?3 The increasing pressure of “Publish or perish syndrome”, willful avoidance of painstaking work or overconfidence in one’s ability or integrity?  This is an example of easiness of publishing fabricated data in the most prestigious journals. Strong editorial processes designed to manage these interests will foster a sustainable and efficient publishing system, which will benefit academic societies, journal editors, authors, research funders, readers, and publishers. Good publication practice will be established only if they are actively promoted.4 Hence there should be a mechanism to address the issue of scientific misconduct. The guidelines on Publication Ethics will offer journal editors a framework for developing and implementing their own publication ethics policies and systems.4 The uniform requirements for Manuscripts submitted to biomedical journals as laid down by International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) will further prevent this issue.5 “Guidelines to authors” of .Journal of KIST Medical College (JKISTMC) is based on these ICMJE guidelines.

Hence, JKISTMC looks forward for promotion of ethical publication by educating and training of authors, reviewers, editors and publishers. There is strict enforcement of the policy to get ethical clearance from Institutional Review Committee (IRC) and strenuous peer review process. Let us all be responsible for preventing scientific misconduct.