Fraudulent business practices, such as those leading to the Enron scandal and the conviction of Bernard Madoff, evoke a strong sense of public outrage. But fraudulent or dishonest actions are not exclusive to the realm of big corporations or to evil individuals without consciences. Dishonest actions are all too prevalent in everyone’s daily lives, because people are constantly encountering situations in which they can gain advantages by cutting corners. Whether it’s adding a few dollars in value to the stolen items reported on an insurance claim form or dropping outlier data points from a figure to make a paper sound more interesting, dishonesty is part of the human condition. Here, we explore how people rationalize dishonesty, the implications for scientific research, and what can be done to foster a culture of research integrity.
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