Data Fabrication/Falsification… Do Not Ever Do!

Data fabrication and falsification is unacceptable

 

What is data fabrication/falsification?

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary:

  • Fabrication: the act or process of fabricating; fabricate is to make up for the purpose of deception. [1]
  • Falsification: The act of making false; a counterfeiting; the giving to a thing an appearance of something which it is not; as the falsification of words.[1]

Data fabrication is to make up, claim, assume, or create data that has never existed in your study and consequently reach some fabricated results. Data falsification is to omit, manipulate, fake, or alter the data of your study in order to support and prove false findings. It can be in the methods, materials, research instruments, images, and results. [2, 3]

Data is the core of research findings. If someone fabricated/falsified data, there will be totally incorrect findings.

What are the impacts of data fabrication/falsification?

Research is the base of everything in our societies. It affects how patients are medically treated, how cities are constructed, how businesses are managed, how crops are cultivated, how economics are empowered, how people are living. Fabricating/Falsifying data wastes other researchers’ time and efforts trying to reach the same conclusion. What if this happens in the medical field, oh… it will affect the patient treatment and medication. This will be extremely dangerous. Thus, publishing false/fabricated data comes on the top of the research malpractices and misconduct.

We are significantly influenced by the publication records, so publishing false or fabricated results affects the entire world. [4]

What are the punishments?

“When is fraud not treated like fraud? When it falls under the euphemistic umbrella of scientific misconduct. That is the opinion, at least, of some members of the scientific community, who believe it is long past time that researchers who commit fraud in the lab face criminal charges in court.” [5]

According to the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), these are the administrative actions to be taken against researchers with misconduct:

  • debarment from eligibility to receive Federal funds for grants and contracts,
  • prohibition from service on PHS advisory committees, peer review committees, or as consultants,
  • certification of information sources by respondent that is forwarded by institution,
  • certification of data by institution,
  • imposition of supervision on the respondent by the institution,
  • submission of a correction of a published article by respondent, and
  • submission of a retraction of a published articles by respondent.

Which administrative actions, the number of administrative actions, and the length of the administrative actions depends on the seriousness of the misconduct, the impact of the misconduct, and whether the misconduct demonstrates a pattern of behavior. Administrative actions are usually imposed for 3 years, but have ranged from 1 year to a lifetime. ORI generally relies on the cooperation of the institution where the respondent is currently employed to assist in implementing administrative actions. [6]

Conclusion

Fabricating/Falsifying data is a seriously damaging and toxic practice that may be taken by a researcher. It affects the entire world, wastes resources, and becomes a stigma in the researcher’s career. We encourage all to spend more time to get actual and correct results instead of cooking research data. [7].

References

[1] Webster’s Dictionary, Online Edition ed.
[2] “Data fabrication / data falsification,” [Online]. Available: https://www.springer.com/gp/authors-editors/editors/data-fabrication-data-falsification/4170. [Accessed 26 June 2019].
[3] “Falsification, Fabrication, Plagiarism,” [Online]. Available: https://www.e-education.psu.edu/bioet533/node/654. [Accessed 26 June 2019].
[4] “Scientific Falsification,” 26 June 2019. [Online]. Available: https://explorable.com/scientific-falsification. [Accessed 26 June 2019].
[5] Roger Collier, “Scientific misconduct or criminal offence?,” CMAJ, vol. 187, no. 17, pp. 1273-1274, 2017.
[6] “Research Misconduct; Handling Misconduct; Administrative Actions,” [Online]. Available: https://ori.hhs.gov/administrative-actions. [Accessed 27 June 2019].
[7] K. L. Galbraith, “Life After Research Misconduct: Punishments and the Pursuit of Second Chances,” Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, pp. 26-32, 2017.