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Division of Labor and Scientific Misconduct

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Walsh J, Lee Y, Tang L. Division of Labor and Scientific Misconduct. Oral presentation at 2017 SciTS Conference. Clearwater Beach, FL. Jun 13, 2017. Ethics And Integrity In Team Science. Online at:

Science is increasingly a team activity, and the size of the teams has been growing. At the same time, there has been an increase in the rate of retractions of published findings. We argue that the increase in division of labor that is associated with larger team size may be a key factor contributing to scientific misconduct and the associated retractions. While larger team size may reduce retraction likelihood due to more people monitoring and checking the results, greater division of labor reduces the ability of team members to monitor each other’s work, increases coordination and communication problems and may lead to goal displacement, and therefore should increase the probability of retraction, net of team size. Based on a matched sample of 263 retracted and 506 paired papers that were not retracted, we develop indicators of the division of labor in the team that produced a paper and find that the rate of retractions is higher as the division of labor increases (net of team size), even though team size has a negative effect on retractions. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of these findings for science policy, in particular for organizing team science projects.



Type of Publication:

Oral presentation


scits 2017 conference, presentation, ethics, integrity, division of labor, scientific misconduct

Addresses these goal(s):

  • Conduct research on/evaluate team science

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Resource created by Jane Hwang on 10/5/2017 10:04:31 AM.

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