Journal Article

The Economics of Scientific Misconduct

Nicola Lacetera and Lorenzo Zirulia

in The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization

Volume 27, issue 3, pages 568-603
Published in print October 2011 | ISSN: 8756-6222
Published online October 2009 | e-ISSN: 1465-7341 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jleo/ewp031
The Economics of Scientific Misconduct

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  • Technological Change; Research and Development
  • Law and Economics
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  • Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainy

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This article presents a model of the research and publication process that analyzes why scientists commit fraud and how fraud can be detected and prevented. In the model, authors are asymmetrically informed about the success of their projects and can fraudulently manipulate their results. We show, first, that the types of scientific frauds that are observed are unlikely to be representative of the overall amount of malfeasance; also, star scientists are more likely to misbehave but less likely to be caught than average scientists. Second, a reduction in fraud verification costs may not lead to a reduction of misconduct episodes but rather to a change in the type of research that is performed. Third, a strong “publish or perish” pressure may reduce, and not increase, scientific misconduct because it motivates more scrutiny. Finally, a more active role of editors in checking for misconduct does not always provide additional deterrence.

Keywords: A14; D82; K42; O31; Z13

Journal Article.  14707 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Technological Change; Research and Development ; Law and Economics ; Economic Sociology ; Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainy

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