7 August 2015, No. 15/2015

Cheating one’s way to success? Scientific misconduct and its consequences

The latest issue of the Humboldt Kosmos magazine examines the causes and consequences of fraud and manipulation in the research community.

The research community is facing a loss of credibility. Cases of fraud are making headlines. Researchers and their funders are alarmed. Ten times as many scientific and scholarly articles are being retracted due to errors today than just ten years ago. The number of non-reproducible and consequently non-verifiable studies is also growing. The latest issue of Humboldt Kosmos, the magazine of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, analyses the causes and consequences of errors, fraud and manipulation in the research field.

Does craving for recognition or greed for success make researchers susceptible to scientific misconduct? Or is it the product of competition over research funding and publication and, ultimately, the research system itself? And how does the research community react? Researchers, ombudspersons and experts from research funding organisations are analysing the problem and what needs to be done. At the same time, Humboldt Foundation President Helmut Schwarz warns in the current issue of Humboldt Kosmos that allegations of fraud have the potential to become a “crippling instrument of combat” in the competitive system of science. In an interview in this issue of Kosmos, research manager Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker talks about responsibility and temptation, enormous departments and steep hierarchies that make the research community susceptible to fraud.

Humboldt Kosmos is published as a German/English flip edition of some 38,000 copies that reaches the Humboldt Network of over 26,000 Humboldtians in more than 140 countries around the world and their approximately 10,000 cooperation partners in Germany.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time researching in Germany. The Foundation maintains a network of well over 26,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 140 countries worldwide – including 51 Nobel Laureates.


Teresa Havlicek
Press, Communications and Marketing
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Georg Scholl
Head of
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Tel.: +49 228 833-258
Fax: +49 228 833-441

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