Education And Debate

Dealing with research misconduct in the United KingdomAn American perspective on research integrityConduct unbecoming—the MRC's approachAn editor's response to fraudstersDeception: difficulties and initiativesHonest advice from Denmark

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 06 June 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1726

Dealing with research misconduct in the United Kingdom

After years of inactivity over the problem of research misconduct in the United Kingdom, there is now an enthusiasm and drive to do something. But how should medical fraud be tackled? Representatives from medical journals (both British and American), the Medical Research Council, a medical school and a medical charity, and a member of the Danish Committee on Medical Dishonesty give their views on this important topic.

An American perspective on research integrity

  1. Drummond Rennie, deputy editor (west), JAMA (
  1. Institute for Health Policy Studies, San Francisco, CA94109, USA
  2. Medical Research Council, London W1N 4AL
  3. Digestive Diseases Research Centre, St Bartholomew's and The Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London E1 2AD
  4. a United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy's and St Thomas's Hospitals, Guy's Hospital, London SE1 9RT
  5. b Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, London SW1X 7DP
  6. Ministry of Science, DK-2900 Hellerup, Denmark

    Editorial by Smith

    News by White

    An allegation of scientific fraud can ruin the careers of both the accused and the accuser, divide faculties, bring a research institution's functions to a halt, provide a field day for the media, and, when the scientific establishment is unprepared, result in a loss of confidence in the entire research enterprise. Yet, despite repeated demonstrations that this is the case, scientists are still reluctant to face up to such an unpleasant problem. Three years ago, at a meeting on research misconduct held by the BMJ, I warned that many extremely embarrassing incidents at a variety of institutions would be required before anyone took any action in the United Kingdom. This seems to have been borne out. At a meeting organised by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) in London, I was depressed that so few seemed to have paid the slightest attention to the rich, well documented and instructive experience of the United States, where an energetic attempt to face up to the problem has been made. Such parochialism may doom the UK to repeat the many mistakes already made by others.

    To the American observer, the news from the UK about incidents of misconduct in research is, as baseball's greatest philosopher, Yogi Berra, remarked, “déjà vu all over again.” I began to be seriously concerned about the problem in 1979 when, as deputy editor of the …

    Correspondence to: Sir Cyril Chantler

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