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Scientist Behaving Badly: But How Bad?

This punch in the face research title, Scientists Behaving Badly, made me wonder: What did these researchers define as bad behavior?

What did they find in their research to conjure such a title:  And how bad is bad?

The three researchers, Martin, Anderson, and Vries (2005) have taken on quite a large project, and they had serious grants to be able to do this research. Article

They surveyed several thousands scientists in their early and mid careers and as you know, when you do a self survey you are dependent on the honesty of the participants in your research. 

Turns out that the several thousands scientists answered honestly enough for 16 patterns to emerge. Out of the 16 patterns of bad behavior, 10 are top, and 6 are not as bad, but bad enough... 

And sadly one of the top one is "overlooking others' use of flawed date or questionable interpretation of data" - and that is how we do perpetuate bad research. 

The number one bad behavior is "Falsifying or 'cooking' research data" and the second one is not treating human-subject (or as we call them now - participants) well. And the list goes on from not disclosing involvement in firms whose products are based on the research, to changing the design or methodology or even the results because of pressure from the funding sources. 

These are big BAD things. The other behavior are still bad, yet they point to a sloppy way of doing research to overlooking publishing rules (publishing in more than one place). 

We have been discussing how to handle contradictory research articles, and I think this research is a good example of scientists working hard to preserve integrity and ethical standing of our community. This article was cited by 1421 other scientists! 

Check out the article and a follow up recent article (2018) on scientists behave badly in the references below, and go over to our previous discussion on how to read research, what to pay attention to, and how to know if you are reading a bad research article. 


  • Martinson, B. C., Anderson, M. S., & De Vries, R. (2005). Scientists behaving badly. Nature435(7043), 737-738. Article
  • Godecharle, S., Fieuws, S., Nemery, B., & Dierickx, K. (2018). Scientists still behaving badly? A survey within industry and universities. Science and engineering ethics24, 1697-1717. Article
  • Bardell, D. (2023, January 18). How do we know what is “more real’ or accurate research? BioImmersion’s Forward Thinking. Article


Yours as always, 


Dohrea Bardell, PhD                                                                                     President                                                                                               BioImmersion Inc.

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