Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 1755–1776 | Cite as

In Their Own Words: Research Misconduct from the Perspective of Researchers in Malaysian Universities

  • Angelina P. Olesen
  • Latifah AminEmail author
  • Zurina Mahadi
Original Paper


Published data and studies on research misconduct, which focuses on researchers in Malaysia, is still lacking, therefore, we decided that this was an area for investigation. This study provides qualitative results for the examined issues through series of in-depth interviews with 21 researchers and lecturers in various universities in Malaysia. The aims of this study were to investigate the researchers’ opinions and perceptions regarding what they considered to be research misconduct, their experience with such misconduct, and the factors that contribute to research misconduct. Our findings suggest that the most common research misconducts that are currently being witnessed in Malaysian universities are plagiarism and authorship disputes, however, researchers seldom report incidents of research misconduct because it takes too much time, effort and work to report them, and some are just afraid of repercussions when they do report it. This suggests possible loopholes in the monitoring system, which may allow some researchers to bypass it and engage in misconduct. This study also highlights the structural and individual factors as the most influential factors when it comes to research misconduct besides organizational, situational and cultural factors. Finally, this study highlights the concerns of all participants regarding the ‘publish or perish’ pressure that they believe would lead to a hostile working environment, thus enhancing research misconduct, as researchers tend to think about their own performance rather than that of whole team or faculty. Consequently this weakens the interpersonal relationships among researchers, which may compromise the teaching and supervision of junior researchers and research students.


Research misconduct Research ethics Research integrity Responsible research conduct 



We would like to thank our participants for their valuable opinions and views on the topic. We are also grateful to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia where the study was based and Ministry of Higher Education (MY) for funding this study (FRGS/1/2017/SSI12/UKM/01/1). We also would like to thank all authors for their contributions to the development of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angelina P. Olesen
    • 1
  • Latifah Amin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Zurina Mahadi
    • 1
  1. 1.Pusat Citra UKMUniversiti Kebangsaan MalaysiaBangiMalaysia

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