Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 437–461 | Cite as

The Perverse Effects of Competition on Scientists’ Work and Relationships

  • Melissa S. AndersonEmail author
  • Emily A. Ronning
  • Raymond De Vries
  • Brian C. Martinson
Original Paper


Competition among scientists for funding, positions and prestige, among other things, is often seen as a salutary driving force in U.S. science. Its effects on scientists, their work and their relationships are seldom considered. Focus-group discussions with 51 mid- and early-career scientists, on which this study is based, reveal a dark side of competition in science. According to these scientists, competition contributes to strategic game-playing in science, a decline in free and open sharing of information and methods, sabotage of others’ ability to use one’s work, interference with peer-review processes, deformation of relationships, and careless or questionable research conduct. When competition is pervasive, such effects may jeopardize the progress, efficiency and integrity of science.


Competition Misconduct Research integrity Ethics in science 



This research was supported by the Research on Research Integrity Program, a collaborative program between the Office of Research Integrity and the National Institutes of Health, grant #R01-NR08090. Raymond De Vries’ work was also supported by grant #K01-AT000054-01 (NIH, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melissa S. Anderson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Emily A. Ronning
    • 1
  • Raymond De Vries
    • 2
  • Brian C. Martinson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Educational Policy and AdministrationUniversity of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.HealthPartners Research FoundationMinneapolisUSA

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