Stealing Into Print: Fraud, Plagiarism, and Misconduct in Scientific Publishing

Overview


False data published by a psychologist influence policies for treating the mentally retarded. A Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist resigns the presidency of Rockefeller University in the wake of a scandal involving a co-author accused of fabricating data. A university investigating committee declares that almost half the published articles of a promising young radiologist are fraudulent.
Incidents like these strike at the heart of the scientific enterprise and shake the ...
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Overview


False data published by a psychologist influence policies for treating the mentally retarded. A Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist resigns the presidency of Rockefeller University in the wake of a scandal involving a co-author accused of fabricating data. A university investigating committee declares that almost half the published articles of a promising young radiologist are fraudulent.
Incidents like these strike at the heart of the scientific enterprise and shake the confidence of a society accustomed to thinking of scientists as selfless seekers of truth. Marcel LaFollette's long-awaited book gives a penetrating examination of the world of scientific publishing in which such incidents of misconduct take place. Because influential scientific journals have been involved in the controversies, LaFollette focuses on the fragile "peer review" process--the editorial system of seeking pre-publication opinions from experts. She addresses the cultural glorification of science, which, combined with a scientist's thirst for achievement, can seem to make cheating worth the danger. She describes the great risks taken by the accusers--often scholars of less prestige and power than the accused--whom she calls "nemesis figures" for their relentless dedication to uncovering dishonesty.
In sober warning, LaFollette notes that impatient calls from Congress, journalists, and taxpayers for greater accountability from scientists have important implications for the entire system of scientific research and communication.
Provocative and learned, Stealing Into Print is certain to become the authoritative work on scientific fraud, invaluable to the scientific community, policy makers, and the general public.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A spate of recent scandals attests to the relevance of this densely detailed review of scientific publishing by an associate research professor of science and technology policy at George Washington University. LaFollette ( Making Science Our Own ) notes that such new developments as electronic journals and the increasing tendency toward multiple authorship of scholarly papers seem to be straining the peer-review system beyond its capacity to prevent or detect fraud. But what can replace it? Neither whistle-blowing by associates nor accusations by self-appointed vigilantes (``nemesis figures''), she argues, will strengthen the scientific publishing process. Unfortunately, LaFollette gets so bogged down in the minutiae of the diverse disciplines that she never steps back to view the problem as a whole and suggest alternative solutions. Another flaw in this ambitious book is her failure to recognize the social and economic pressures that to a large extent have created scientific publishing's difficulties. ( Sept. )
Library Journal
This is a refreshing and fascinating step forward from a plethora of example-laden exposes on scientific fact-fiddling and malfeasance. Unlike Robert Bell's very good Impure Sciences ( LJ 5/15/92), technical policy professor LaFollette chooses to examine the moral, ethical, and practical bases that undergird scientific publishing and deftly illustrates with an insider's view how and why fraud might occur. Especially interesting are sections on prominent researchers who attach their names to everything that emerges from their labs, a la David Baltimore; a historical and philosophical discussion of the ``nemesis,'' or whistleblower; and an excellent explication of the problems of peer review. The last chapter considers highly important issues like intellectual property and the significance of new data acquisition and publishing technologies. Literate and extremely well written, this is required--and pleasurable--reading for anyone who publishes in scholarly and scientific journals. For academic and large public library science collections.-- Mark L. Shelton, Athens, Ohio
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520078314
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 10/12/1992
  • Pages: 293

Meet the Author

Marcel LaFollette is Associate Research Professor of Science and Technology Policy at George Washington University. Author most recently of Making Science Our Own: Public Images of Science, 1910-1955 (1990), she is also editor or co-editor of several books in science studies.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Ch. 1 When Interests Collide: Social and Political Reactions 1
Ch. 2 Classifying Violations 32
Ch. 3 Scientific Publishing: Organization and Economics 68
Ch. 4 Authorship 91
Ch. 5 Decision Making: Editors and Referees 108
Ch. 6 Exposure: The Whistleblower, the Nemesis, and the Press 137
Ch. 7 Action: Investigation and Evidence 156
Ch. 8 Resolution: Correction, Retraction, Punishment 174
Ch. 9 On the Horizon 195
Notes 213
Selected Bibliography 263
Index 281
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