Weekend reads, part 2: Criminalizing scientific fraud; Nobel Prize folly; boosting impact factor

booksThere were so many items to choose from this week for Weekend Reads — probably because it was Peer Review Week — that we decided to split them into two posts. Here’s part 2:

Like Retraction Watch? Consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support our growth. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, and sign up on our homepage for an email every time there’s a new post. Click here to review our Comments Policy.

2 thoughts on “Weekend reads, part 2: Criminalizing scientific fraud; Nobel Prize folly; boosting impact factor”

  1. The Beall blog entry about the Russian broker is very important. What that blog story suggests is that three parties are needed for this business venture to be a successful enterprise: a) the Russian agent; b) the target journal (which seems to receive a financial “incentive”; c) the authors. I am really concerned with b). Is there more information about which Scopus or WoS journals exactly have joined this scheme? I ask because this sounds like a ghost authorship practice.

  2. The chief motivation for advocating the criminalization of research misconduct appears to be outrage rather than logic.

    In the U.S., the bulk of research misconduct includes many actions that would not meet the three to four “elements” needed to legally define something as a “fraud” under the U.S. criminal law. But that narrow criterion does not preclude prosecution of some acts of research misconduct as crimes *when the facts warrant.* Criminalizing research misconduct is a banner in search of a pre-existing parade. Why put a square wheel on the cart?

    Given that research misconduct can already be prosecuted as a crime, do the editorial and research communities really want to abrogate their professional judgments to those of the political community? Do you want to cede those prerogatives to trial by jury, lawyers, and dueling experts?

    Towards the end of my twenty years at ORI, I was impressed by the improved quality of investigations that the U.S. institutions ran. Sure, there were shortcomings at times; but is Dr. Smith arguing that research institutions can’t learn, improve, nor do better investigations than the non-scientists in the criminal justice system?

    How much of this is motivated by a perception that Science must be out of whack because of the attention to the large number of retractions? But as that number is still far, far less than the 1% incidence of sociopathy that occurs in the population in general. Criminalizing research misconduct is a recipe for making scientific research less transparent, not more so.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.