The first large-scale survey of scientific misbehaviour published on Thursday said scientists in the United States of America fudged their research results either to become famous, to suit their sponsors or for other reasons.
Over five percent of scientists responding to a confidential questionnaire admitted to have tossed out data because it contradicted their previous research or because they had circumvented some human research protections, the report said.
More than 15 percent admitted they had changed a study's design or results to satisfy a sponsor or ignored observations because they had a 'gut feeling' they were inaccurate, it added.
But none of these failings qualify as outright scientific misconduct under the strict definition used by federal regulators, said Brian Martinson, an investigator with Health Partners Research Foundation in Minneapolis, who led the study appearing in today's issue of the journal Nature.
According to the survey, 12.5 percent overlooked others' use of flawed or questionably interpreted data; 10.8 percent withheld details of methodology or results; 7.6 percent circumvented minor rules protecting human subjects and 6 percent failed to present data that contradicts one's own previous research.
A small 1.7 percent admitted to unauthorised use of confidential information; 1.4 percent said they used another's ideas without permission or giving credit while 1.4 percent had 'questionable relationships' with subjects, which qualify for prosecution.