Pathological publishing: a new psychological disorder with legal consequences?
Legal and ethical consequences
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AbstractThe present study deals with an important problem that currently affects scientists and society, namely, the falsification and manipulation of research and researchers' CVs, which has considerably increased in recent years. This is shown by some studies, the authors of which have found high percentages of researchers who falsify their CV or manipulate data. We analyze the system used to evaluate science and researchers, which is almost exclusively based on the impact factor. We review the main critiques on the inappropriate use of the impact factor to assess researchers and argue that this has generated a new style of thinking in which the only goal is to obtain publications with an impact factor. Over the last few years, the pressure to publish has led to an obsession among researchers to disseminate the multiple indicators of their scientific publications over the Internet, to the extent that such initiatives look like marketing campaigns where researchers advertise themselves. For all these reasons, we propose that this may be a new psychological disorder, given that several criteria indicating maladaptation are clearly met: falsification and/or manipulation of data, falsification of publication indicators, distortion of reality, belief in manipulated data, and an obsession to conduct marketing campaigns of oneself. We address the important ethical and legal implications of such falsifications. Finally, we discuss the need to change the system used to evaluate science and researchers, which undoubtedly promotes these dishonest behaviors or this psychological dysfunction.