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Research misconduct is common among Middle East scientists, survey says

Almost 75% report knowing about misconduct by their colleagues

by Andrea Widener
November 27, 2017 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 47

Research misconduct is a serious problem in the Middle East, a survey of academic scientists there shows.

Nearly 60% of respondents reported committing at least one breach of research ethics, and almost 75% said they knew of similar problems among their colleagues. “Scientific misconduct represents a significant issue in several universities in the Middle East,” the paper says.

Previous studies have found that misconduct is common in the U.S., Europe, and beyond. However, this is the first examination of the problem in the Middle East, the authors say. They analyzed anonymous responses from 278 investigators at universities in three countries: Egypt, Lebanon, and Bahrain (J. Acad. Ethics 2017, DOI: 10.1007/s10805-017-9295-9).

The most common type of misconduct was circumventing research ethics regulations, followed by fabrication and falsification of data. Faculty were less likely to have committed misconduct than students and postdocs.

Lack of ethics training was a significant predictor of misconduct. Those who had previous ethics training or had worked in Western labs were less likely to say they had committed misconduct. “Training in ethics might enhance investigators’ awareness and understanding of the issues surrounding research integrity,” the authors reported.

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