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Science as a Matter of Honour: How Accused Scientists Deal with Scientific Fraud in Japan


Practices related to research misconduct seem to have been multiplied in recent years. Many cases of scientific fraud have been exposed publicly, and journals and academic institutions have deployed different measures worldwide in this regard. However, the influence of specific social and cultural environments on scientific fraud may vary from society to society. This article analyzes how scientists in Japan deal with accusations of scientific fraud. For such a purpose, a series of scientific fraud cases that took place in Japan has been reconstructed through diverse sources. Thus, by analyzing those cases, the social basis of scientific fraud and the most relevant aspects of Japanese cultural values and traditions, as well as the concept of honour which is deeply involved in the way Japanese scientists react when they are accused of and publicly exposed in scientific fraud situations is examined.

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  1. On the other hand, there are several studies regarding the types and causes of cognitive bias, such as the classic work of Stuart Sutherland (1992), or recent works as the one from Harker (2015) or Fanelli et al. (2017). Cognitive bias, as a source of irrational practices is usually considered non-voluntary and, therefore, not a research misconduct. It is the will to alter the results of a research project what defines scientific misconduct practices as such.

  2. Charles Babbage’s (1791–1871) work regarding scientific misconduct was published in London in 1830, under the title “Reflections on the Decline of Science in England, and on Some of its Causes”.

  3. NSF's Research Misconduct regulation is found at 45 CFR 689. Available at:

  4. ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is a regional organisation comprising ten Southeast Asian states.

  5. Japan follows the global trend on that aspect, as death rates from suicide are four times greater for men than for women across OECD countries (OECD 2014). The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) has 35 member countries, many of the richest nations of the world among them.

  6. First published in 1846, this book is a very free translation that Marx made of French police officer Jacques Peuchet's account of suicides in Paris.

  7. Countries with the current highest suicide rates are: Hungary, Japan, Korea and the Russian Federation, with more than 20 suicide deaths per 100,000 population (OECD 2014).


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Correspondence to Pablo A. Pellegrini.

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Pellegrini, P.A. Science as a Matter of Honour: How Accused Scientists Deal with Scientific Fraud in Japan. Sci Eng Ethics 24, 1297–1313 (2018).

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  • Scientific fraud
  • Honour
  • Japan
  • Research misconduct