Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Thursday, June 4, 1998 Published at 08:54 GMT 09:54 UK


Health

'Lives at risk' from research fraud

Not all scientific research is based on genuine investigation


The BBC's James Westhead on fraud in scientific research
Doctors have warned that medical researchers who fake evidence are risking lives.

A major new report has concluded that fraud and fabrication is widespread throughout medical research. The practice has potentially devastating implications because doctors base treatment on published research.

The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) was set up last year following mounting concern among editors of scientific publications that research studies contained faked results.

It is thought that increased pressure to achieve results to obtain scarce funding resources has pushed many scientists into acting dishonestly. The COPE report cites 25 cases of scientific fraud.

Felt-tip pen

In one case a scientist who claimed to have transplanted black skin onto a white mouse had in fact simply coloured the mouse with a felt-tip pen.


[ image: Scientists will go to extraordinary lengths to fake results]
Scientists will go to extraordinary lengths to fake results
A British Medical Association spokesman said that members of the committee had been approached by a "phenomenal" number of people revealing cases of fraud and misconduct, and that the problem was far more widespread than was first thought.

"There is no doubt that there is phenomenal evidence to show that there is a lot of this occurring," the spokesman said.

The committee has recommended that a national regulatory body be set up to monitor standards in scientific research.

"The trouble is that there are a huge amount of people involved in research who are not doctors or medical people, and who are not registered with any professional body," the spokesman said.

"Therefore there is no recourse."



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |


Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes
Internet Links

British Medical Journal

British Medical Association

Medical Ethics Groups


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Disability in depth

Spotlight: Bristol inquiry

Antibiotics: A fading wonder

Mental health: An overview

Alternative medicine: A growth industry

The meningitis files

Long-term care: A special report

Aids up close

From cradle to grave

NHS reforms: A guide

NHS Performance 1999

From Special Report
NHS in crisis: Special report

British Medical Association conference '99

Royal College of Nursing conference '99