The time has come to take fraud in science seriously. The fraud, in all its forms, is increasing.
The causes of this are clear:
Scientific institutions had refused intervention of the competent investigative and law enforcement agencies.
The science became “self-regulating”. This, however, would not end in a catastrophe, if the investigations were given to the scientists. But the investigations fell into the hands of the bureaucrats and the people who had nothing to do with science.
Now, the internal investigative procedures are obeying the artificially imposed, often by the unions, rules of confidentiality.
Over the years, the administrators had downgraded the seriousness of fraud occurring in science. The terms and definitions were changed. Fraud in science became a “misconduct”. The “misconduct” is said to be related to “research ethics”; the rules of the “research ethics” are still not settled. The university officials are free to issue completely arbitrary decisions. Sometimes, the public can wonder what is behind the officials’ disregard of the law and rules, is it politics, bribes or something else.
Some time ago, there appeared numerous “committees” and “secretariats” playing the role of the “watchdogs” of ethics and integrity. Although they may not have scientists on their staff, their decisions are accepted by universities, governmental bodies and thousands of scientific journals. It seems that they represent the same political groups that are fighting “culture wars”, “science wars” and “gender wars” for some decades. They now are focused on exonerating “ones of their own” when they commit fraud.
Journalists, mass media, who very often play a decisive role in uncovering white-collar crime elsewhere in society, are not doing this job in science. They became an instrument of propaganda in the hands of scientific establishment.
The popular explanation for the present situation in academia says that competition for funds and positions makes scientists to commit fraud. This explanation almost absolves the perpetrators from any responsibility; it is transferring the blame on the society and the system. In reality, however, the system is broken not only by the moneys but even more by the corruption of the administration and the new “watchdogs”, resulting in impunity that perpetrators of fraud are enjoying for years and decades.
There is no reason why the system cannot be made transparent. Currently, there are many complaints remaining unseen and unknown to the public, even within the academia. They are disregarded by the administration, moreover, they are kept in confidential files.
Yet, everybody is entitled to publish his or her story, to show the documents supporting the complaints and to demand justice. Everybody is entitled to publicly demand the proper answer to his or her complaints. Here, there will be links to the allegations of fraud and misconduct published on the web. The discussion here will include not only individual cases, but also the methods of fighting the fraud, first among them – opening the “floodgates” that now keep individual cases outside of the scientific journals and other media. Scientific journals that lack interest in transparency will be exposed.
The current pattern of thinking about the process of reporting fraud in academia as being different from reporting other white-collar crime, must be broken.