Assessing the perceived prevalence of research fraud among faculty at research-intensive universities in the USA
Reisig, M., Holtfreter, K., & Berzofsky, M. E. (2020). Assessing the perceived prevalence of research fraud among faculty at research-intensive universities in the USA. Accountability in Research: Policies and Quality Assurance, 27(7), 457-475. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/08989621.2020.1772060
Survey-based studies on research fraud often feature narrow operationalizations of misbehavior and use limited samples. Such factors potentially hinder the development of strategies aimed at reducing the frequency of wrongdoing among researchers. This study asked full-time faculty members in the natural, social, and applied sciences how frequently six types of research fraud (i.e., data fabrication, plagiarism, data falsification, authorship fraud, publication fraud, and grant fraud) occur in their field of study. These data come from mail and online surveys that were administered to a stratified random sample of tenured and tenure-track faculty members (N = 613) at the top 100 research universities in the United States. Factor-analytic modeling demonstrated that the survey items load on the hypothesized latent constructs and also confirmed the presence of a second-order factor. A specific type of authorship fraud – gift authorship – was perceived to be the most prevalent overall. The least common fraud was a form of data fabrication (i.e., creating data from a study that was never actually conducted). The results were largely consistent with previous studies indicating that serious forms of fraud like data fabrication are relatively rare. Future survey-based studies should pay careful attention to the multidimensional nature of research fraud.