Legal liability for research fraud

That is the title of our latest paper, forthcoming in the Statistical Journal of the IAOS. Props to Steve Koczela and Orlando I. Martinez-Garcia for their comments and suggestions on the paper. In addition, props to my wife Sydjia Robinson and to my colleagues in the Dixon School of Accounting at the University of Central Florida for their friendship and willingness to disagree with me. Here is an excerpt from the introduction to our revised paper (citations omitted; emphasis in the original):

This paper examines one aspect of research misconduct that has received little attention thus far: the possibility of civil liability (as opposed to criminal liability) in cases involving research fraud. Of the few legal cases involving fraudulent research that have been brought to date, all involve criminal liability. This paper, by contrast, identifies and summarizes several possible theories of civil liability arising out of quantitative and qualitative research fraud in academic publishing. By way of analogy, certified public accountants are potentially liable to their clients and certain third parties for the issuance of financial statements with material misstatements, so why shouldn’t individual academic researchers and research organizations be, in principle, held to the same the legal standards?

And here is an excerpt from our conclusion: “… the possibility of legal liability for research fraud raises deeper questions that should be the subject of further work: What is the optimal level of scientific research, how should the tension between free speech and false speech be resolved, and would the imposition of civil liability on research actors have a ‘chilling effect’ on new research in the social sciences, statistics, or in other fields? For now, we leave these difficult questions to others.”

Image result for research fraud

Source: Fanelli, PLos One (2009), doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005738.

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
This entry was posted in Cheating, Deception, Law, Science. Bookmark the permalink.

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