There was a time when an allegation of data mishandling, scientific misconduct, or just a technical error felt like a crisis to Barrett Rollins, an oncologist and research integrity officer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Now, it’s a Tuesday.
The renowned cancer treatment and research center is in the midst of a lengthy review of possible discrepancies involving around 60 papers co-authored by four of its top researchers over a period of over 15 years, including CEO Laurie Glimcher and COO William Hahn. And it’s hardly alone. Over the past decade, the number of research misconduct allegations reported to the National Institutes of Health has more than doubled, climbing from 74 in 2013 to 169 in 2022. And scientific sleuths are finding plenty of other problems that don’t always qualify as outright misconduct.
One analysis of PubPeer, a website where users can anonymously comment on scientific papers, found that out of a sample of nearly 25,000 comments, 62% were about alleged data manipulation. Nearly 80% of these comments were on health or life sciences studies.