It's not hard to see that men are more likely to engage in risky behaviors than women, or that crime rates are many times higher among men, but this tendency to break the rules also extends to male scientists, according to a study to be published on January 22 in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. An analysis of data from the Office of Research Integrity reveals that men commit research misconduct more often than their female peers, a gender disparity that is most pronounced among senior scientists.
"Not only are men committing more research misconduct," says Joan W. Bennett of Rutgers University, a co-author on the study. "Senior men are most likely to do so."
In the study Bennett teamed with Ferric C. Fang of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle and Arturo Casadevall of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, and scrutinized data from the U.S. Office of Research Integrity, an organization that investigates allegations of misconduct in research supported by the Department of Health and Human Services. "Misconduct" includes such infractions as fabrication, falsification or plagiarism.
They found that out of the 227 individuals sanctioned for committing scientific misconduct between 1994 and the present, 66% were male, a number that far outstrips their overall representation among researchers in the life sciences. And although men represent about 70% of faculty in the life sciences, 88% of faculty who committed misconduct were male.
If the fact that men are more likely to commit scientific misconduct is less than surprising, Casadevall says, what did surprise the authors is the fact that misconduct is not confined to inexperienced, early-career strivers.
"When you look at the numbers, you see that the problem of misconduct carries through the entire career of scientists," says Casadevall. Faculty (32%) and other research personnel (2
|Contact: Jim Sliwa|
American Society for Microbiology