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The Economics of Scientific Misconduct

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  • Nicola Lacetera
  • Lorenzo Zirulia

Abstract

This article presents a model of the research and publication process that analyzes why scientists commit fraud and how fraud can be detected and prevented. In the model, authors are asymmetrically informed about the success of their projects and can fraudulently manipulate their results. We show, first, that the types of scientific frauds that are observed are unlikely to be representative of the overall amount of malfeasance; also, star scientists are more likely to misbehave but less likely to be caught than average scientists. Second, a reduction in fraud verification costs may not lead to a reduction of misconduct episodes but rather to a change in the type of research that is performed. Third, a strong "publish or perish" pressure may reduce, and not increase, scientific misconduct because it motivates more scrutiny. Finally, a more active role of editors in checking for misconduct does not always provide additional deterrence. The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Yale University. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicola Lacetera & Lorenzo Zirulia, 2011. "The Economics of Scientific Misconduct," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(3), pages 568-603.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jleorg:v:27:y::i:3:p:568-603
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/jleo/ewp031
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. List, John A, et al, 2001. "Academic Economists Behaving Badly? A Survey on Three Areas of Unethical Behavior," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(1), pages 162-170, January.
    2. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 2007. "Replication in Economics," IZA Discussion Papers 2760, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Tsebelis, George, 1989. "The Abuse of Probability in Political Analysis: The Robinson Crusoe Fallacy," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 83(1), pages 77-91, March.
    4. Alexander Dyck & Adair Morse & Luigi Zingales, 2010. "Who Blows the Whistle on Corporate Fraud?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(6), pages 2213-2253, December.
    5. Gary A. Hoover, 2004. "Whose Line Is It? Plagiarism in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(2), pages 487-493, June.
    6. Edward L. Glaeser, 2006. "Researcher Incentives and Empirical Methods," NBER Technical Working Papers 0329, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Dewald, William G & Thursby, Jerry G & Anderson, Richard G, 1986. "Replication in Empirical Economics: The Journal of Money, Credit and Banking Project," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 587-603, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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