NPR

How A Budget Squeeze Can Lead To Sloppy Science And Even Cheating

The hypercompetitive world of biomedical research occasionally drives scientists to cheat. More often, scientists make decisions that undercut their results. That can lead colleagues astray.
Stories of outright misconduct are rare in science. But the pressures on researchers manifest in many more subtle ways, say social scientists studying the problem. Source: Eva Bee/Getty Images

A funding crunch for scientific research is creating incentives for scientists to cut corners and even occasionally to cheat.

This is one of the findings in a new report about scientific integrity from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

Sometimes scientists adopt sloppy practices that can lead to false conclusions. This can hamper progress in science. And taxpayer dollars are on the line.

Consider the story of a genetics lab at the University of Wisconsin. Mary Allen was a graduate student in that lab in 2005. One postdoctoral researcher had been laid off because of a funding shortage, and the professor in charge of the lab was scrambling

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min readPolitics
2 Koreas' Leaders Will Hold New Summit In Pyongyang Next Month
"For peace and prosperity of the world as well as those of the Korean peninsula," read a short statement issued by South Korea's Blue House on Monday
NPR4 min read
'BlacKkKlansman' Entertains, But Falls Short Of Lee's Best
It's being hailed as Spike Lee's best film in years, but NPR's Justin Richmond says BlacKkKlansman breezes over its main character's inner conflicts and lets polemics get in the way of storytelling.
NPR6 min read
With Syria's War Nearly Over, Victims Take The Battle To European Courts
Syria's President Bashar Assad is on the verge of winning the war. But refugee activists are waging new battles against the regime from Europe.