Scientific Misconduct

  • Gideon J. MellenberghEmail author


Scientific misconduct is a very serious threat to research. Scientific fraud and questionable scientific practices are distinguished. Three types of fraud are described. First, plagiarism is the presentation of another’s work as the researchers own, and self-plagiarism is the presentation of a researcher’s previously published work as new. Second, fabrication is the creating of non-existing research or parts of research. Third, falsification is the distortion of truthful information. Researchers apply questionable practices to present a more positive picture of their studies, for example, reporting significant results and not mentioning nonsignificant results. Editors and reviewers apply questionable practices as well, for example, encouraging researchers to apply questionable practices. Fraud is always intentional, but questionable practices are intentional or unintentional. For example, practices that are common in a researcher’s subfield are not meant to mislead. Intentional questionable practices are a type of fraud because they are applied to mislead editors, reviewers, and readers. However, unintentional questionable practices come from lack of knowledge and understanding. Policies to counteract scientific misconduct are described. Education should inform students on ethical standards of research, and teach them to apply correct methods and procedures. Substantive researchers should consult methodologists and statisticians to avoid questionable practices. The publication process should pay more attention to misconduct, for example, by preregistering planned studies, applying text-matching software to detect (self-) plagiarism, adding suspicion of fraud to reviewers’ evaluation criteria, and adding disclosure statements and transparency batches to submitted manuscripts and published articles. Probably, fraud and intentional questionable practices cannot completely be banned, but should be penalized under the law that is applicable.


Disclosure statement Fabrication of data Falsification of data Plagiarism Preregistration Questionable editorial practices Questionable research practices Scientific fraud Text-matching software Transparency standards 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Emeritus Professor Psychological Methods, Department of PsychologyUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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