Scientific misconduct harms prior collaborators

March 15, 2018

While there has always been anecdotal evidence of this being the case, a study by Prof. Katrin Hussinger (University of Luxembourg) and Dr Maikel Pellens (ZEW, Mannheim and KU Leuven, Belgium) now provides empirical evidence. "Guilt by Association: How Scientific Misconduct Harms Prior Collaborators" was based on the U.S. Office of Research Integrity's 1993 to 2008 misconduct filings. A group of 856 prior research collaborators of the fraudulent scientists was identified by using publication records dating back five years before the case of misconduct. Only cases where a retraction or correction of the research processed for scientific misconduct was published were taken into account.

Compared to a control group, the results showed an average drop in citations of 8 to 9 percent for previous colleagues. Citations play an important role in science as they show the impact of research in the scientific community. Researchers with a high citation count are usually also more successful in attracting funding and receive more lucrative job offers. The reduced citation count could therefore have significant implications for their career.

"The results of the study are worrisome," explained Prof. Hussinger. "Our research shows that guilt by association stretches back to projects prior to the fraud case and thereby to unsuspecting and uninvolved co-workers."

While stigmatization by association has been observed in different settings and contexts, the results from the field of academia are problematic in their own ways, according to Prof. Hussinger: "Trust is a crucial aspect of communicating science and conveying research results to the public. The ripple effects of one misconduct case can put at risk the reputation of a much larger group of scientists and even institutions."

Even though the researchers cannot provide a simple solution to the issue, guilt by association should be treated seriously, Prof. Hussinger and Dr. Pellens argue. An unwanted implication, Prof. Hussinger concluded, could be the underreporting of actual fraud causes: "Knowing that they might be penalised for mere association might make researchers think twice before speaking out."
Notes to editors

Image copyright: Michel Brumat / University of Luxembourg

Communication from the University of Luxembourg

University of Luxembourg

Related Guilt Articles from Brightsurf:

Why obeying orders can make us do terrible things
War atrocities are sometimes committed by 'normal' people obeying orders.

Pretrial publicity hinders prosecutors' ability to prove guilt
Study finds media coverage is more likely to influence jurors to vote for acquittal than for conviction.

Survivors' near-miss experiences on 9/11 linked to post-traumatic stress
People who narrowly avoid disaster do not necessarily escape tragedy unharmed, and their knowledge of the victims' fate shapes how survivors respond to traumatic events, according to the results of a new paper by a UB psychologist that explores the effects of near-miss experiences associated with the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

To cheat or not to cheat? Researchers uncover the moral dilemmas of doping
Elite athletes are less likely to take banned substances if they consider the morality of what they are doing, and not just the health consequences of doping, according to a new study led by the University of Birmingham and funded by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Responding to extremist attacks: For Muslim leaders, 'It's damned if you do, damned if you don't'
Muslim leaders face a perilous task when asked to publicly respond to violent attacks carried out by Muslim extremists.

How do we make moral decisions?
When it comes to making moral decisions, we often think of the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Parental support linked to how well millennials transition to college life
Researchers show that how well parents or guardians support millennials' psychological needs prior to their transition to college is an important predictor of their psychological well-being as they adapt to college life.

Shameful secrets bother us more than guilty secrets
Everyone has secrets, but what causes someone to think about them over and over again?

Study advocates psychological screening for the carers of child burn victims
A new study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology highlights the need for psychological screening for families/primary caregivers after a child sustains a burn injury.

Severity of crime increases jury's belief in guilt
A laboratory experiment with 600 mock jurors has found the more severe an alleged crime, the higher a juror's confidence in guilt becomes, regardless of the evidence.

Read More: Guilt News and Guilt Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to