Aetiology

The causes of misconduct in science have often been debated. As in other countries, in Germany the publish or perish principle, honorary authorship, impact factor fetishism, and the situation of graduate students faced with the choice of condoning, or actively participating in, their superior's misconduct, or leaving the group to face an uncertain future, have all been incriminated as promoting misconduct.27

The conditions under which researchers work in Germany should help to reduce the problem. Here, the academic research community and the social security of the researchers are far less dependent on grants than, for example, in the USA.29 With only a few exceptions, universities and scientific research institutions are either state maintained or receive basic government funding. Being government employees or civil servants, researchers can, to a certain extent, conduct research from the basic funding available to their institution, but the share of university research paid for from external funds is increasing, above all in the natural sciences. Furthermore, although applicants in Germany do not have to make a living by raising funds, they do have to provide for some staff members, a fact which - apart from the wish to carry out a certain project - can be no less an incentive to lower the "conscience threshold" too much when making an application. Hence self-evidently the German system is not immune against misconduct, although the temptation to engage in it might be weaker than in certain other countries.

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