By the time this third edition is published, almost thirty years will have elapsed since Robert Slutsky's painted mice inaugurated the paradigm shift into the unthinkable: that misconduct might occur in scientific research. Most authorities now agree that the problem is small but important, yet different countries have reacted in remarkably different ways. Some (the USA and the Nordic countries, in particular) have devised robust and fair systems, honing the details with experience. Others (especially the ancient regimes, such as Britain, France, and Germany) have been less resolute, and hence sometimes individual initiatives have arisen to fill the gap. Two of the latter - a private investigatory agency and a journal editors' organisation - are described here, while other new articles deal with the role of research ethics committees, the experience of a whistleblower, and how to prevent misconduct. The remaining articles, including those detailing the experience of individual countries, have all been updated from previous editions. We are also grateful to Professor Povl Riis for his article putting the entire subject into the wider perspective of scientific research and its relation to society. Two of us (Stephen Lock and Frank Wells) welcome Michael Farthing to the editorial team. His will be the responsibility for taking this book forward into the future.
As before, we have not imposed a straitjacket of terminology on our contributors: fraud, misconduct, dishonesty may all mean the same thing -whatever, Humpty-Dumpty-like, the authors intend. We also have to confess to editorial bias in our approach. Self-evidently, the editors come from a country whose medical Establishment has singularly failed to devise a formal system of prevention and management of a suspected case, despite the continuing evidence that the problem is no different from that in other countries that have taken it seriously. Would that a fourth edition will not need to include again a plea for creating a system in the UK and a few other countries, but can instead be devoted to sharing worldwide experiences of success. However, we remain sceptical.
Finally it is a pleasure to thank BMJ Books for their continuing help, especially Mary Banks, our indefatigable editor, and Michèle Clarke, the copy-editor.
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