ngin - Norfolk Genetic Information Network
Date:  16 November 2000


World Service article: Science Fact or Fraud


The theory is that all research is and should be under open scrutiny for any other scientist to challenge and question, but that is not always the case in practice.

One person who did blow the whistle and report what he saw as dishonest practices was Dr Andy
Millar.  He was the Director of Clinical Research with a small but growing biotechnology company called British Biotech.

He was worried about some clinical drug trials the company was conducting - and he said so publicly:

‘I finished up being fired, there was a media war for six weeks when the company attempted and succeeded to a large extent in discrediting me and rubbishing [sic] my professional reputation.
The company sued me for breach of confidence and professional misconduct and in the end I won - if there is a winner in litigation.’

Professor Steven Rose:  ‘Well I think there is a very real problem from the point of view of
university research in the way that private companies have entered the university, both with direct companies in the universities and with contracts to university researchers. So that in fact the whole
climate of what might be open and independent scientific research has disappeared, the old idea that universities were a place of independence has gone.  Instead of which one's got secrecy,
one's got patents, one's got contracts and one's got shareholders.’

Professor Brian Martin, of the University of Wollongong Australia, has been researching scientific
dissent for 20 years and has just completed The Whistleblowers Handbook.

So how deep are the levels of fraud and misconduct? Brian Martin believes it’s widespread:

‘It's unbelievable. If you go into any organisation and start asking around you find all sorts of corruption and various misdeeds. So there are definitely things that need to be spoken or things that need to be done to fix problems whether it's corruption or harassment or actually very deep seated problems of the way society is going.’

[for more on Brian Martin's work on the suppression of dissent in science see: ]

Fraudulent Science

In the US, the mammoth National Institutes of Health set up an Office of Research Integrity (ORI), which received a thousand allegations of misconduct over five years. Of those, 150 were investigated. And in half of those, the office found against the researchers.

... research is often politically highly charged, so that wishful thinking and hard evidence become irredeemably entangled.
For more on corrupt science see Prof Bullsh*t's many articles and links:

ngin bulletin archive