Can we trust scientific journals? Well, one Dutch scientist admits that he falsified facts under pressure from his peers. In the highly competitive world of science, getting one’s research and subsequent report peer-reviewed is a huge deal. It cements your repetition and opens you and your research team up to further funding.
But what happens when a scientists loses a moral compass and bends to will of other scientists? The answer is that the layman gets a stick put somewhere very uncomfortable.
According to Reuters UK, Diederik Stapel, a psychologist working at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, fabricated research because, in his opinion, he felt pressure to perform.
His work –which was published in respected journal, Science — studied the effects of discrimination, taking into account one’s surroundings.
Stapel’s apologetic remarks appeared in a local Dutch newspaper, lamenting on his guilt for making up facts to support his research:
“I have failed as a scientist, as a researcher,” he said. “I have adjusted research data and faked research. Not just once, but many several times, and not just briefly, but over a long period of time.
“I am ashamed of this and I am deeply sorry.”
This story illuminates why we, as readers and consumers, should always fact check and never place “experts” or professionals on pedestals.
“The official report … indicates that the extent of the fraud by Stapel is substantial,” Science’s editor-in-chief Bruce Alberts wrote in the journal’s online edition Science Express.
The lighthearted manner in which Science editors took the news of this fraudulent behavior may suggest that they might have knowledge of how prevalent falsifying reports is within the scientific community. Yikes!
We here at Frugivore depend heavily on peer-reviewed journals — the supposed gold standard of research — so a story at like this is troubling but not surprising. Many honest scientists and researchers will tell you that there are many different pressures to produce the desired results for not just peers but especially for donors.
If one is really interested in finding the source of most research, request a copy from the addresses and/or emails which appear on the report. Most research is open to the public, especially government research via Freedom of Information Act.