Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 395–414 | Cite as

Causal Factors Implicated in Research Misconduct: Evidence from ORI Case Files

  • Mark S. DavisEmail author
  • Michelle Riske-Morris
  • Sebastian R. Diaz
Original Paper


There has been relatively little empirical research into the causes of research misconduct. To begin to address this void, the authors collected data from closed case files of the Office of Research Integrity (ORI). These data were in the form of statements extracted from ORI file documents including transcripts, investigative reports, witness statements, and correspondence. Researchers assigned these statements to 44 different concepts. These concepts were then analyzed using multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis. The authors chose a solution consisting of seven clusters: (1) personal and professional stressors, (2) organizational climate, (3) job insecurities, (4) rationalizations A, (5) personal inhibitions, (6) rationalizations B and, (7) personality factors. The authors discuss the implications of their findings for policy and for future research.


Research integrity  Research misconduct  Responsible conduct of research 



This research was supported by a contract awarded to Justice Research & Advocacy, Inc. by the Office of Research Integrity. The findings and conclusions reported herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Office of Research Integrity, the Office of Public Health and Science, or the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. The authors would like to thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for numerous helpful comments and suggestions.


  1. 1.
    LaFollette, M. C. (1994). Research misconduct. Society, 31(3), 6–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Davis, M. S. (2003). The role of culture in research misconduct. Accountability in Research, 11(3), 189–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Dresser, R. (1993). Defining scientific misconduct: The relevance of mental state. JAMA, 269(7), 895–897.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Woolf, P. (1981). Fraud in science. The Hastings Center Report, 11(5), 9–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Berg, A. O. (1990). Misconduct in science: Does family medicine have a problem? Family Medicine, 22(2), 137–142.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    James, W. (1995). Fraud and hoaxes in science. Nature, 377(6549), 474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Lock, S. (1997). Fraud in medical research. Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 31(1), 90–94.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Royal College of Physicians (1991). Fraud and misconduct in medical research: causes, investigation and prevention. Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of London, 25(2), 89–94.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Weed, D. (1998). Preventing scientific misconduct. American Journal of Public Health, 88(1), 125–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Dyer, O. (2004). Doctor fabricated research while depressed. BMJ Careers, 329(7473), 996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Broad, W., & Wade, N. (1982). Betrayers of the truth. New York: Simon & Schuster.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Racker, E. (1989). A view of misconduct in science. Science, 339(6220), 91–93.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    American Psychiatric Association (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Broome, M. E. (2003). Scientific integrity. Nursing Outlook, 51(5), 197–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Chop, R. M., & Silva, M. C. (1991). Scientific fraud: definitions, policies and implications for nursing research. Journal of Professional Nursing, 7(3), 166–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Jay, P. (1999). Research misconduct – have we reached a turning point at last? Science and Engineering Ethics, 5(1), 119–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Lock, S. (1994). Research misconduct: a brief history and a comparison. Journal of Internal Medicine, 235(2), 123–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Tangney, J. P. (1987). Fraud will out – or will it? New Scientist, 115(1572), 62.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Mumford, M. D., & Helton, W. B. (2002). Organizational influences on scientific integrity. In N. H. Steneck & M. D. Scheetz (Eds.), Investigating research integrity: Proceedings of the first ORI research conference on research integrity. Rockville, MD: Office of Research Integrity.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Davis, M. S., Wester, K. L., & King, B. (In press). Ethical compromises in counseling research: A pilot study of prevalence and correlates. Journal of Counseling & Development.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Goodstein, D. (2002). Scientific misconduct. Academe, 88(1), 18–21.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Fuchs, S., & Westervelt, S. D. (1996). Fraud and trust in science. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 39(2), 248–269.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Morrison, R. S. (1990). Disreputable science: Definition and detection. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 15(8), 911–913.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Davis, M. S., & Riske, M. L. (2002). Preventing scientific misconduct: Insights from convicted offenders. In N. H. Steneck & M. D. Scheetz (Eds.), Investigating research integrity: Proceedings of the first ORI research conference on research integrity. Rockville, MD: Office of Research IntegrityGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Fox, M. F., & Braxton, J. M. (1994). Misconduct and social control in science: Issues, problems, solution. Journal of Higher Education, 65(3), 373–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    James, N., Burrage, J., & Smith, B. (2003). Scientific integrity: A review of The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) reports. Nursing Outlook, 51(5), 239–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Hansen, B. C., & Hansen, K. D. (1995). Academic and scientific misconduct: Issues for nursing educators. Journal of Professional Nursing, 11(1), 31–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Fletcher, S. W., & Fletcher, R. H. (1994). Publish wisely or perish: Quality rather than quantity in medical writing. Annals of the Academy of Medicine, Singapore, 23(6), 799–800.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Jefferson, T. (1998). Redundant publication in biomedical sciences: Scientific misconduct or necessity? Science and Engineering Ethics, 4(2), 135–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Lynch, A. (1994). Ethics in dental research. Publication of research: The ethical dimension. Journal of Dental Research, 73(11), 1778–1782.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Smith, M. M. (1992). Chiropractic research: The ethics. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 15(8), 536–541.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Whitbeck, C. (1995). Truth and trustworthiness in research. Science and Engineering Ethics, 1(4), 403–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Holaday, M., & Yost, T. E. (1995). A preliminary investigation of ethical problems in publication and research. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 10(2), 281–291.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Mojon-Azzi, S. M., & Mojon, D. S. (2004). Scientific misconduct: from salami slicing to data fabrication. Ophthalmic Research, 36(1), 1–3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Dale, J. A., Schmitt, C. M., & Crosby, L. A. (1999). Misrepresentation of research criteria by orthopaedic residency applicants. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American Volume, 81(12), 1679–1681.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Frankel, M. S. (1994). Ethics in research: Current issues for dental researchers and their professional society. Journal of Dental Research, 73(11), 1759–1765.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Hernon, P., & Altman, E. (1995). Misconduct in academic research: its implications for the service quality provided by university libraries. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 21(1), 27–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Wocial, L. D. (1995). The role of mentors in promoting integrity and preventing scientific misconduct in nursing research. Journal of Professional Nursing, 11(5), 276–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Illingworth, R. (2004). Fraud and other misconduct in biomedical research. British Journal of Neurosurgery, 18(4), 325–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Meyer, III, W. M. & Bernier, Jr., G. M. (2002). Potential cultural factors in scientific misconduct allegations. In N. H. Steneck & M. D. Scheetz (Eds.), Investigating research integrity: Proceedings of the first ORI research conference on research integrity. Rockville, MD: Office of Research Integrity.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Jones, A. H. (2003). Can authorship policies help prevent scientific misconduct? What role for scientific societies? Science and Engineering Ethics, 9(2), 243–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1998a). Part I: Methods of collecting and analyzing empirical materials. In N. K. Denzin, & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Collecting and interpreting qualitative methods (pp. 35–45). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). An expanded sourcebook: Qualitative data analysis (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1998). Strategies of qualitative inquiry. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Patton, M. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods (2nd ed.). Newbury Park: CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    von Eckartsberg, R. (1996). Existential-phenomenological research. In E. von Eckartsberg (Ed.), Phenomenological inquiry in psychology: Existential and transpersonal dimensions (pp. 3–61). New York: Plenum Press.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Webster’sII New College Dictionary (1986). New York: Houghton Mifflin Co.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Trochim, W. (1989). An introduction to concept mapping for planning and evaluation. Evaluation and Program Planning, 12(1), 87–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Trochim, W. (1993). Reliability of concept mapping. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the American Evaluation Association, Dallas, Texas.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Trochim, W. (1989). Concept mapping: Soft science or hard art? Evaluation and Program Planning, 12(1), 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Davis, J. E. (1989). Construct validity in measurement: A pattern matching approach. Evaluation and Program Planning, 12(1), 31–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Marquart, J. M. (1989). A pattern matching approach to assess the construct validity of an evaluation measurement. Evaluation and Program Planning, 12(1), 37–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Linton, R. (1989). Conceptualizing feminism: Clarifying social concepts. Evaluation and Program Planning, 12(1), 25–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Shern, D. L., Trochim, W. K., & LaComb, C. A. (1995). The use of concept mapping for assessing fidelity of model transfer: An example from psychiatric rehabilitation. Evaluation and Program Planning, 18(2), 143–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Mannes, M. (1989). Using concept mapping for planning the implementation of a social technology. Evaluation and Program Planning, 12(1), 67–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Wenger, N. S., Korenman, S. G., Berk, R., & Berry, S. (1997). The ethics of scientific research: An analysis of focus groups of scientists and institutional representatives. Journal of Investigative Medicine, 45(6), 371–380.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    SPSS, I. (2004). SPSS 13.0 for windows.
  58. 58.
    Sykes, G., & Matza, D. (1957). Techniques of neutralization: A theory of delinquency. American Sociological Review, 22(6), 664–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Heitman, E., & Bulger, R. E. (2005). Assessing the educational literature in the responsible conduct of research for core content. Accountability in Research, 12(3), 207–224.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark S. Davis
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michelle Riske-Morris
    • 2
  • Sebastian R. Diaz
    • 3
  1. 1.Criminal Justice Research CenterThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Justice Research & Advocacy, Inc.AmherstUSA
  3. 3.College of Human Resources and EducationWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA

Personalised recommendations