Dishonest Conformity in Peer Review

Prometheus, Forthcoming

31 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2015 Last revised: 24 Oct 2015

See all articles by Sotaro Shibayama

Sotaro Shibayama

Lund University - Department of Business Administration; University of Tokyo

Yasunori Baba

University of Tokyo

Date Written: January 1, 2016


Honesty in scientific publication is critical for scientific advancement, but dishonesty is commonly and increasingly observed in the forms of misconduct and other questionable practices. Focusing on dishonest conformity in peer review, in which authors unwillingly obey referees’ instructions in order to have their papers accepted even if the instructions contradict the author’s scientific belief, the current study aims to investigate the determinants of dishonesty. Drawing on survey data of Japanese life scientists, this study shows that the conflict between authors and referees in peer review is quite common, under which a majority of scientists follow referees’ instructions rather than to refute them. The results suggest that conformity occurs more frequently 1) in biology than in medicine and agriculture, 2) when authors are under stronger scientific competition, 3) if authors are associate professors rather than full professors, 4) if authors have no foreign research experience, and 5) in low-impact journals rather than in medium-impact journals.

Keywords: Misconduct, publication, research integrity, scientific honesty, questionable research practice

JEL Classification: O32

Suggested Citation

Shibayama, Sotaro and Baba, Yasunori, Dishonest Conformity in Peer Review (January 1, 2016). Prometheus, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: or

Sotaro Shibayama (Contact Author)

Lund University - Department of Business Administration ( email )

Box 117
SE-221 00 Lund, S-220 07

University of Tokyo ( email )

Hongo 7-3-1
Tokyo, Tokyo 113-8656


Yasunori Baba

University of Tokyo ( email )

Hongo 7-3-1
Tokyo 113-0033, Tokyo

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