Scientific misconduct: also an issue in nursing science?

J Nurs Scholarsh. 2014 Jul;46(4):271-80. doi: 10.1111/jnu.12082. Epub 2014 Apr 23.


Purpose: Scientific misconduct (SMC) is an increasing concern in nursing science. This article discusses the prevalence of SMC, risk factors and correlates of scientific misconduct in nursing science, and highlights interventional approaches to foster good scientific conduct.

Methods: Using the "Fostering Research Integrity in Europe" report of the European Science Foundation as a framework, we reviewed the literature in research integrity promotion.

Findings: Although little empirical data exist regarding prevalence of scientific misconduct in the field of nursing science, available evidence suggests a similar prevalence as elsewhere. In studies of prospective graduate nurses, 4% to 17% admit data falsification or fabrication, while 8.8% to 26.4% report plagiarizing material. Risk factors for SMC exist at the macro, meso, and micro levels of the research system. Intervention research on preventing scientific misconduct in nursing is limited, yet findings from the wider field of medicine and allied health professions suggest that honor codes, training programs, and clearly communicated misconduct control mechanisms and misconduct consequences improve ethical behavior.

Conclusions: Scientific misconduct is a multilevel phenomenon. Interventions to decrease scientific misconduct must therefore target every level of the nursing research systems.

Clinical relevance: Scientific misconduct not only compromises scientific integrity by distorting empirical evidence, but it might endanger patients. Because nurses are involved in clinical research, raising their awareness of scientifically inappropriate behavior is essential.

Keywords: Nursing; good scientific conduct; intervention; scientific misconduct.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Nursing Research / standards*
  • Plagiarism
  • Risk Factors
  • Scientific Misconduct / statistics & numerical data*