Before starting to work in science labs, many researchers are required to take ethics training courses. They are taught about the types of fraud that occur in scientific research, the ways to avoid it, and how to report any known cases of fraud. Fraud in scientific research is present in nearly all fields. Research fraud constitutes the fabrication, falsification and plagiarism of data. Misconduct in research involves a breach in the code of conduct and ethical behavior. Studies have shown that more than 40% of all surveyed researchers have known about fraud but have failed to report it. Similarly, this number is about 17% for clinical research trials (Gupta). These statistics demonstrate that scientific fraud and misconduct are part of a huge problem.
There are several regulations and agencies present in the United States to manage fraud in clinical research. For instance, the Office for Human Subjects Protection serves to ensure ethical practice in research involving human subjects. Similarly, there is the Office of Research Integrity, which regulates research in the biomedical and behavioral sciences. Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration plays a huge role in detecting and preventing fraud in clinical as well as basic scientific research.
However, though the FDA discovers fraud and misconduct and issues official actions against the studies due to “significant departures from good clinical practice,” these studies are still often published with no correction of the data or indication of the breach of scientific ethical conduct or the falsification, fabrication or plagiarism of data (“Fraudulent Clinical Trials”).
For instance, a study published in 2012 claimed that a stem cell therapy showed major improvements in patients who had severe loss of blood circulation, yet it did not mention that one of the 26 patients had to have his leg amputated two weeks after the treatment. There have been many such cases in which fraud and misconduct in clinical research studies and trials have failed to be reported, leading to significant impacts. First of all, since published data is not necessarily valid, it can negatively impact other researchers using the published data as a source. Additionally, it promotes the presence of ineffective and harmful treatments for patients.
Since published data is not necessarily valid, it can negatively impact other researchers using the published data as a source.
As a result, it becomes essential that more stringent regulations be placed on researchers in case of fraud and misconduct. What actions and regulations should be taken? Will more stringent regulations prevent fraudulent papers from being published while maintaining the pace of both basic science and clinical research? These questions have yet to be answered, but evidence suggests that more drastic action must be taken in order to detect and prevent the occurrence of further fraud and misconduct.
“Fraudulent Clinical Trials Known to FDA Hidden from Journals and Public.” MNT. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2015. .
Gupta, Ashwaria. “Fraud and misconduct in clinical research: A concern.” Perspectives in Clinical Research: n. pag. NIH NCBI. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.