September
12
 

Should we criminalise scientific misconduct?

Scientific misconduct is bad, but should it be a crime? One high profile academic says yes.   

In a recent interview with New Scientist, Dr. Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal, argues that the criminalisation of research fraud is a necessary measure.

Smith suggests that scientists found guilty of misconduct “can’t be trusted” and yet many “have simply carried on with their careers.”

“Science itself has failed to adequately deal with misconduct”, he said.

Smith argues that scientific fraud causes serious social harm, citing as an example disgraced autism researcher Dr. Andrew Wakefield. Wakefield’s now discredited study on the link between vaccination and autism caused a massive drop in the number of childhood vaccinations.

Smith also argues that the nature of science means scientists should be held to a higher standard than the general public.

“The temptation to ignore, undermine, or even falsify the offending data is huge. Only those with the highest levels of honesty can accept, let alone be delighted, when data destroy their theories.”

Smith's comments echo the remarks of Dr Zulfiqar Bhutta, Robert Harding Chair in global child health and policy and Co-Director of the Centre for Global Child Health at the Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, in a BMJ interview last year. Dr Bhutta argued that current sanctions against fraud are insufficient. "additional deterrence through punitive measures such as criminal proceedings should be added to the repertoire of measures available", he said. 



This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge.org under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

comments powered by Disqus
 

 Search BioEdge

 Subscribe to BioEdge newsletter
rss Subscribe to BioEdge RSS feed


 Recent Posts
Another Australian state legalizes ‘assisted dying’
18 Sep 2021
British Medical Association goes neutral on ‘assisted dying’
18 Sep 2021
Medical students moonlighting as sex workers need support not judgement, says BMA
18 Sep 2021
China cracks down on cosmetic surgery to stop ‘appearance anxiety’
18 Sep 2021
Appeals court overturns landmark gender ruling in UK
18 Sep 2021

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | rss RSS | Archive | Bookmark and Share | michael@bioedge.org

BioEdge - New Media Foundation Ltd © 2004 - 2019