How common is scientific fabrication and result falsification?

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The image of scientists as objective seekers of truth is periodically jeopardized by the discovery of a major scientific fraud. Recent scandals like Hwang Woo-Suk’s fake stem-cell lines [1] or Jan Hendrik Schön’s duplicated graphs [2] showed how easy it can be for a scientist to publish fabricated data in the most prestigious journals, and how this can cause a waste of financial and human resources and might pose a risk to human health. How frequent are scientific frauds? The question is obviously crucial, yet the answer is a matter of great debate [3], [4].

This pristine image of science is based on the theory that the scientific community is guided by norms including disinterestedness and organized scepticism, which are incompatible with misconduct [8], [9]. Increasing evidence, however, suggests that known frauds are just the “tip of the iceberg”, and that many cases are never discovered.
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