Research Misconduct: Fraud and Plagiarism

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  • 0:07 Fraud and Plagiarism
  • 1:45 The Reasoning
  • 2:50 Concerns
  • 4:08 Good Research
  • 5:12 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Devin Kowalczyk

Devin has taught psychology and has a master's degree in clinical forensic psychology. He is working on his PhD.

Obviously, at this level, you don't need to be told that copying or making things up is wrong; however, it still happens more often than it should. We will look at the specifics of plagiarism and fraud in psychological research.

Fraud and Plagiarism

If you discuss ethics, you have to discuss fraud and plagiarism. It sucks that we have to do this, but it is such a problem that the American Psychological Association has the entire 8.11 section dedicated to plagiarism. Plagiarism is the presentation of another's work or data as your own, even if the other work or data source is cited occasionally.

Portraying someone else's work as your own is a big no-no. Even if you throw in the occasional muffled 'this came from so and so,' it is still not okay! If you do not do the work, then don't take the credit. Most often, I have heard that plagiarism takes the form of shared projects being published under one researcher's name. If you did some of the work, you only take some of the credit.

Plagiarism in psychological research can often take the form of copying another's ideas or theories and replacing key words so that it appears new. It is even possible to plagiarize oneself by not citing the source of the ideas.

Fraud is the intentional falsification or fabrication of methods, data, results, or reported findings. As you can see, there are many steps and places that a person can tweak something so the results look like they found something significant. Fraudulent psychological research usually deals with results and reporting. Numbers might be altered to create a stronger statistical picture than actually exists. Sometimes everything is just made up, from the participants to the results.

The Reasoning

If you go online and search plagiarism or fraud, you will find dozens of articles from within the last few years discussing researchers who have committed these acts. You might be wondering why someone would risk the embarrassment and their career to get published. The reasons are fairly simple.

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