Recent highly publicized cases of scientific misconduct have raised concerns about its consequences for academic careers. Previous and anecdotal evidence suggests that these reach far beyond the fraudulent scientist and (his or) her career, affecting coauthors and institutions. Here we show that the negative effects of scientific misconduct spill over to uninvolved prior collaborators: compared to a control group, prior collaborators of misconducting scientists, who have no connection to the misconduct case, are cited 8–9% less often afterwards. We suggest that the mechanism underlying this phenomenon is stigmatization by mere association. The result suggests that scientific misconduct generates large indirect costs in the form of mistrust towards a wider range of research findings than was previously assumed. The far-reaching fallout of misconduct implies that potential whistleblowers might be disinclined to make their concerns public in order to protect their own reputation and career.
Hussinger, Katrin und Maikel Pellens (forthcoming), Guilt by association: How scientific misconduct harms prior collaborators, Research Policy. Download