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Research Misconduct - Definitions


Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results, according to 42 CFR Part 93 Link to External Site.

Research misconduct does NOT include honest error or differences of opinion

Fabrication: Making up data or results and recording or reporting them

  • A possible example of fabrication: In order to meet recruitment pressure and expectations, a study coordinator completed trial enrollment forms using faked names and participants' information.
  • Vermont investigator Eric Poehlman made up patients' data that never existed to support his scientific claims. Read about "Poehlman's caseLink to External Site in the New York Times
  • Read June 2012 article "Parkinson's Researcher Fabricated DataLink to External Site in The Scientist

Falsification: Manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.

  • Investigators might falsify results by 'splicing and pasting' together different segments of western blot images so that the final image presented appeared to have come from a single western blot procedure.
  • Harvard investigator Marc Hauser was found to have fabricated and manipulated research results. Read about "Hauser's caseLink to External Site in
  • Read news article "Image Manipulation: CSI: cell biologyLink to External Site in

Plagiarism: The appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.

ORI's policy Link to External Site on Plagiarism excludes:

  • the limited use of identical or nearly-identical (general) phrases that are not substantially misleading or of great significance
  • disputes among former collaborators