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Keeping house

Daniele Fanelli, an evolutionary biologist at Stanford University, tells Cristina Gallardo that universities, governments and the EU must do more to manage research misconduct.

In recent months, there have been several reports of researchers accused of misconduct taking their cases to the judicial courts. In February, Bente Klarlund, a Danish sports physiologist, won an appeal against the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty after being accused of misrepresenting experiments. In the United States, a case involving Piero Anversa, a stem cell researcher at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard University, is based on accusations of conflicts of interest and the use of compromised data.

According to Daniele Fanelli, an Italian evolutionary biologist who now studies bias and misconduct in science, researchers turning to the courts is a sign that institutions are failing on the issue. Universities need systems to both detect and punish misconduct, and to protect researchers with a right to appeal—but in many countries, this is missing. “Most European countries lack a proper system or regulations to deal with suspected cases of fraud,” he says, so not enough action is being taken to prevent and punish scientific misconduct.

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