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Publications 2014, 2(2), 44-50; doi:10.3390/publications2020044
Article

The Demographics of Deception: What Motivates Authors Who Engage in Misconduct?

Medical Communications Consultants LLC, 103 Van Doren Place, Chapel Hill, NC 27517, USA
Received: 9 February 2014 / Revised: 20 March 2014 / Accepted: 21 March 2014 / Published: 28 March 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Misconduct in Scientific Publishing)
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Abstract

We hypothesized that scientific misconduct (data fabrication or falsification) is goal-directed behavior. This hypothesis predicts that papers retracted for misconduct: are targeted to journals with a high impact factor (IF); are written by authors with additional papers withdrawn for misconduct; diffuse responsibility across many (perhaps innocent) co-authors; and are retracted slower than papers retracted for other infractions. These hypotheses were initially tested and confirmed in a database of 788 papers; here we reevaluate these hypotheses in a larger database of 2,047 English-language papers. Journal IF was higher for papers retracted for misconduct (p < 0.0001). Roughly 57% of papers retracted for misconduct were written by a first author with other retracted papers; 21% of erroneous papers were written by authors with >1 retraction (p < 0.0001). Papers flawed by misconduct diffuse responsibility across more authors (p < 0.0001) and are withdrawn more slowly (p < 0.0001) than papers retracted for other reasons. Papers retracted for unknown reasons are unlike papers retracted for misconduct: they are generally published in journals with low IF; by authors with no other retractions; have fewer authors listed; and are retracted quickly. Papers retracted for unknown reasons appear not to represent a deliberate effort to deceive.
Keywords: data fabrication; data falsification; scientific fraud; plagiarism; misconduct data fabrication; data falsification; scientific fraud; plagiarism; misconduct
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).
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Steen, R.G. The Demographics of Deception: What Motivates Authors Who Engage in Misconduct? Publications 2014, 2, 44-50.

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