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The Economics of Scientific Misconduct

Author

Listed:
  • Nicola Lacetera

    (Department of Economics, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western University, Cleveland, OH, USA)

  • Lorenzo Zirulia

    (Department of Economics, University of Bologna, Italy; CESPRI, Bocconi University, Milano, Italy; and Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis)

Abstract

Scientific fraud is a pervasive phenomenon with deleterious consequences, as it leads to false scientific knowledge being published, therefore a¤ecting major individual and public decisions. In this paper we build a game-theoretic model of the research and publication process that ana- lyzes 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 four main results. First, the types of scientific frauds that are observed are unlikely to be representative of the overall amount of malfeasance in science; also, star scientists are more likely to misbehave, but are less likely to be caught than average scientists. Second, a reduction in the costs of checking for frauds may not lead to a reduction of misconduct episodes, but rather to a change in the type of research that is performed. Third, an increase in competition between scientists may in fact reduce, and not increase, scientific misconduct. Finally, a more active role of editors in checking for misconduct does not always provide additional deterrence.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicola Lacetera & Lorenzo Zirulia, 2008. "The Economics of Scientific Misconduct," KITeS Working Papers 215, KITeS, Centre for Knowledge, Internationalization and Technology Studies, Universita' Bocconi, Milano, Italy, revised Apr 2008.
  • Handle: RePEc:cri:cespri:wp215
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Research and publication process; peer review; fraud.;
    All these keywords.

    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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