Guilt by Association: How Scientific Misconduct Harms Prior Collaborators

50 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2017  

Katrin Hussinger

Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW)

Maikel Pellens

Centre for European Economic Research; MSI, Faculty of Business and Economics, KULeuven

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

Recent highly publicized cases of scientific misconduct have raised concerns about its consequences for academic careers. Previous and anecdotal evidence suggests that these reach far beyond the fraudulent scientist and her career, affecting coauthors and institutions. Here we show that the negative effects of scientific misconduct spill over to uninvolved prior collaborators: compared to a control group, prior collaborators of misconducting scientists, who have no link to the misconduct case, are cited 8 to 9% less afterwards. We suggest that the mechanism underlying this phenomenon is stigmatization by mere association. The result suggests that scientific misconduct generates large indirect costs in the form of mistrust against a wider range of research findings than was previously assumed. The broad fallout of misconduct implies that potential whistleblowers might be disinclined to make their concerns public in order to protect their own reputation and career.

Keywords: Scientific Misconduct; Prior Collaborators; Stigma

JEL Classification: O31, O33

Suggested Citation

Hussinger, Katrin and Pellens, Maikel, Guilt by Association: How Scientific Misconduct Harms Prior Collaborators (2017). ZEW - Centre for European Economic Research Discussion Paper No. 17-051. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3072290 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3072290

Katrin Hussinger

Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) ( email )

P.O. Box 10 34 43
L 7,1
D-68034 Mannheim, 68034
Germany

Maikel Pellens (Contact Author)

Centre for European Economic Research ( email )

P.O. Box 10 34 43
L 7,1 D-68161 Mannheim
Germany

MSI, Faculty of Business and Economics, KULeuven ( email )

Naamsestraat 69
Leuven, B-3000
Belgium

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