More than half of scientists in the Netherlands routinely violate scientific standards by omitting unwanted research results, hiding methodological issues in research, or selectively citing available literature. In fact, over 8 percent have fabricated or falsified research results in the past three years. This is evident from National survey on scientific integrity, a project led by Lex Bouter, Professor of Methodology and Integrity at Vrije Universiteit and UMC Amsterdam. The results were published Tuesday in the man Article. It’s certain prepress server. This means that the publication has not yet been peer reviewed.
The project aims to improve the quality and reliability of scientific research in the Netherlands, explains Bauter. “Next year we will be discussing with universities how we can use the research results. “
The study found links between non-compliance with scientific rules and a number of external factors. If the researchers think they have a strict Peer review [beoordeling door vakgenoten] They committed less fraud. Scientists who felt compelled to work because of the pressure of publications or the need to obtain new funding engaged in questionable research practices. Men and early career people have also admitted to making mistakes relatively often.
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“It’s probably not that great, but it’s the first time this project has been built this way,” Potter says. “Please note: these are associations. Our investigation did not establish a cause and effect. So it is not said that if you activate the emphasis button as people feel it, this behavior decreases immediately. The effect of these phenomena is complex.
The study of inappropriate behavior
Potter and his team sent out surveys to employees at 22 Dutch universities and academic medical centers. In it, questions were asked about scientifically incorrect behavior and the factors that could influence it. Only eight institutions actively cooperated by providing e-mail addresses and encouraging participation, while the researchers themselves collected the addresses of 14. In total, more than 63,778 questionnaires were sent. Potter: “The response from the eight actively participating organizations exceeded 21%. We cannot comment on the remaining fourteen as we do not know how accurate our set of email addresses is. “
Strictly speaking, Bauter stresses that the research results only say something about the participants and not about Dutch science as a whole, but he is confident in the quality and representation of his data. “The answer is comparable to comparable studies abroad, and in absolute numbers I am not aware of any more significant international research on this subject.”
The participants were allowed to answer the most sensitive questions with. method random response Potter says it’s called, which is a solid guarantee of anonymity. This technique is also used in investigations into doping in sport and social security abuses. This translates to a two to three times higher percentage of people admitting to breaking the rules. So our 8% is closer to reality than when we look at it in a conventional way. ”
But isn’t it conceivable that many scientists who didn’t respond to the survey didn’t because they had to admit something – and the numbers are higher in real life? Potter: “It’s possible, but we don’t know. Either way, it wouldn’t be much less, as I can’t imagine the interviewees admitting mistakes they weren’t responsible for. ”
On the morning of July 9, 2021, a version of this article also appeared on NRC