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J Am Coll Dent. 2008 Summer;75(2):29-35.

Ethical and legal considerations in a case of research fraud.

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Faculty of Dentistry, Institute of Clinical Dentistry, University of Oslo, Norway.


In 2006 a researcher at the main hospital in Norway admitted that he had forged data in a study published in the medical journal The Lancetthat was co-authored by 13 others from both Europe and America. The researcher, dually qualified in dentistry and medicine, immediately admitted fabricating the results. A Commission of Enquiry reported that most of his publications were fabricated or manipulated and that he was alone in the fraud. As a result, the researcher lost his authorization to practice medicine and dentistry. His action has shaken the trustworthiness of science and the trust for the scientific community, both in the institutions that support the research and in the review process in science publications. Following this revelation, the management of scientific fraud has been widely discussed, including concerns about the dual role of a Commission of Enquiry as both investigator and judge, and also the legal rights of fraudulent scientists. Other issues concern the responsibilities of supervisors and institutions in the guidance of candidates in research procedures and ethics. In addition, commentaries have appeared in national newspapers as well as in medical and dental scientific journals. Various issues have been discussed, including the fact that editors and referees in scientific publications rarely have the opportunity to check raw data, which emphasizes the need for data confirmation by independent groups. These reflections have been fruitful for the community, although it will not, nor can it, prevent fraud in the future.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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