Study Finds That Men Are More Likely Than Women to Commit Fraud in Scientific Research

test tubes 3A study by researchers at Yeshiva University, Rutgers University, and the University of Washington has found that in academic scientific research men are more likely than women to commit academic fraud. The researchers found that fraud or misconduct was the reason in two thirds of the cases when scientific papers were retracted. Previous research had identified errors as the reason for retraction in a majority of the cases.

In examining 228 cases of misconduct in cases brought before the U.S. Office of Research Integrity from 1994 to 2012, researchers found 32 percent of the cases of fraud were perpetrated by faculty members, 40 percent by trainees, and 28 involved other research personnel. Overall, 65 percent of the fraud cases were perpetrated by men. But among faculty members, 88 percent of the perpetrators were men. Of the 72 faculty members who committed fraud, only nine were women. The authors state that when controlling for factors such as the percentage of women faculty in the sciences and different rates of publication, if fraud rates were equal among genders, one would expect that 27 of the 72 faculty members who committed fraud would be women.

Arturo Casadevall, professor and chair of the microbiology and immunology at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine at Yeshiva University and co-lead author of the study, stated, “Our finding – that males are overrepresented among those committing misconduct – implies a gender difference we need to better understand in any effort to promote the integrity of research.”

In attempting to explain the gender difference, Dr. Casadevall said, “Males tend to be risk takers, more so than females, and to commit fraud entails taking a risk. It may also be that males are more competitive, or that women are more sensitive to the threat of sanctions. I think the best answer is that we don’t know.”

Filed Under: Research/StudySTEM Fields


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