Allegations of research errors and fraud

Where referees or readers come to the publisher or editor saying that: certain laboratories do not have the facilities to conduct the research they published; the gel images look manipulated; the data from the control experiments is too perfect etc, then the possibility of fraud needs to be considered.

Fraud is publishing data or conclusions that were not generated by experiments or observations, but by data manipulation or invention. Changing the data measurements to conveniently fit the desired end result is fraud, but excluding inconvenient results is deliberate research error, which, in effect, is the same end result – fraud.

Note that the procedures below are similar to those for research results misappropriation.

The complainant must be made aware that the matter cannot be investigated unless the journal editor informs the corresponding (or complained-about) author (due process) and the institution or company at which the research took place (especially if fraud is alleged).

In the communication to the corresponding author (see Form letter A1), the editor should indicate that the matter will likely be referred to the institution or company where the research took place or any other relevant institution or agency (for example a funding agency) unless the author provides a reasonable explanation (accepted as reasonable by the editor).

What if the corresponding (complained-about) author accepts the position of the complainant?


What if the corresponding/complained-about author rejects the position of the complainant?


What if the corresponding/complained-about author has not responded to the editor's correspondence?


What if the institution or company responds and indicates either that they agree there was research fraud or that they will investigate and mediate the result?


What if the institution responds negatively or does not respond?


What if a funding agency is involved?


What if the authors and complainant, employing institutions and funding agencies fail to reach consensus or to act in a reasonable manner and time?