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Scientific falsification -falsifying evidence in a research

Scientific falsification has been around in the scientific community since the inception of the idea of scientific experimentation.

This article is about the falsified evidence. For the act of disproving a proposition, hypothesis, or theory, scientific falsifiability (the inherent testability of any scientific hypothesis) would be the term to use.

Falsification in science is loosely defined as publishing or reporting misleading facts associated with a study, research or experimentation.

Scientific falsification can be considered as:

  • Falsifying data
  • Falsifying evidence
  • Fabricating data
  • Fabricating evidence
  • Plagiarism

Falsifying data can be as simple as not accounting seriously the margin of error in a study or it can be as extreme as knowingly changing data to support the hypothesis.

Falsifying evidence is very rarely accidental and is usually done to support a hypothesis.

Fabricating data is literally making up data. Perhaps it is mentioning an event that did not occur or reports a population that was not used.

Fabricating evidence is also literal; the researcher makes up evidence that does not exist.

Plagiarism is also considered scientific falsification, if a part of the work reported is taken from another source without proper citation, the report or paper can be deemed as scientific falsification.

All of these key events are considered scientific falsification, either standing alone or combined. This misconduct is considered the ultimate misconduct in the research community. The offender is often stripped of his credentials and because of the tight knit nature of the scientific community even if the credentials are not stripped the researcher may never find work as a researcher again. It will impact the ability to secure funding in the future.

What are the effects of scientific falsification?

Society as a whole is greatly dependent upon the scientific community to provide direction. Direction is received from the scientific community in every aspect of society.

The medical industry depends on valid research to determine best treatment plans, when evidence of efficacy is falsified it effects directly how a patient will be treated for a specific illness. This is probably the most dangerous aspect of scientific falsification. Falsifying data and falsifying evidence can be extremely dangerous in this setting.

Even the simplest day to day things that every culture and society experience, are brought about by what is to be believed as valid research. How businesses conduct their business is backed by research, consumerism is backed by research. How schools teach their students is effected by research. Just about every aspect of society as we know it is formed by research.

People are greatly influenced by what is reported in the media. The media uses facts and figures to validate their reporting, those facts and figures are based on others research. If the research has been falsified and presented, it affects everyone everywhere.

What causes scientific falsification?

Why would a person that is considered top in his/her field fabricate results or falsify data? This is a hard question to answer.

Pride may be a primary motivator. Perhaps the researchers pride is such that they just have to be right. It may be that they so believe in the hypothesis and believe that it should be an accepted theory that they are willing to risk their career on it.

Money is also a huge motivator, funding is normally based on results, unfortunately. If the researcher feels that funding may be cut if the results cannot be proven in the favor of the financier of the project this may promote dishonesty in reporting.

The researcher may perceive that falsifying data may not impact the overall study. It may also be perceived that falsifying evidence that supports the actual outcome does not actually impact the outcome and is not truly dishonest but more of a means to amp up the actual findings.

There may even be instances where the researcher is dependent upon assistants for valid reporting and this information may be falsified. If the head researcher doe not check the data as presented and uses that data to report the findings, and the data is not accurate, this too is considered scientific falsification.

Ultimately it is up to the author to be sure what is being reported is accurate and not based on falsified information.

Scientific falsification goes against everything that the scientific method stands for. It is unethical, immoral and dangerous. It is one of the worst acts that anyone in research can commit. It is severely punished.

Reference

Explorable.com (Aug 5, 2010). Scientific Falsification. Retrieved Feb 27, 2022 from Explorable.com: https://explorable.com/scientific-falsification