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Shaming Science – Reintegration vs. Stigmatization of Deviance

In science discoveries are rewarded with reputation and career options. For this purpose researchers not only cross the boundaries of established knowledge but also of permissible behavior. As a consequence cases of deviance in science occur regularly as can be seen e.g. from the now numerous publicly scandalized cases of plagiarism by officials and scientists. Previous studies indicate that the effect of the scientific ethos on the community of scientists is not as distinctive as one would hope. However, little is known about the motives for scientific misconduct and also the existing instruments for prevention and sanctioning as well. The project "Shaming Science – Reintegration vs. Stigmatization of Deviance" analyzes the developing procedures to secure minimal requirements for scientific work. It also focuses on possible non intended consequences of procedures that are in place to ensure optimal research quality. Theoretically, the project combines two sociological areas – Science Studies and Criminology. Based on bibliometric analysis of retracted publications and further document analysis a typology of the careers of deviant scientists will be developed. Subsequently, interviews will be used to investigate the strategies of institutional actors like journal editors, offices for research integrity, ombudsmen, and funding organizations in response to scientific misconduct. Together, the results from these approaches will improve our understanding of whether and how the self-correcting potential in the science system contributes to the prevention of misconduct.

Duration: January 2014 − December 2016
Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
(Funding code: 01PY13009)
Contact persons: Prof. Dr. Martin Reinhart, Felicitas Heßelmann, Marion Schmidt, Verena Graf


Hesselmann, Felicitas / Wienefoet, Verena / Reinhart, Martin, 2014: Measuring Scientific Misconduct – Lessons from Criminology. Publications, 2(3), 61-70.