What is this about?

Fabrication is one of the most severe violations of research integrity. It is considered serious research misconduct. In the European Code of Conduct fabrication is defined as “making up results and recording them as if they were real”(1). Presenting fabricated data to be true can have serious adverse consequences for the general public and the scientific community.

Why is this important?

Fabricating data is to be discouraged and should be prevented across all scientific disciplines (1). Next to falsification and plagiarism, fabrication is seen as one of the most serious forms of research misconduct. It is estimated that 2% of researchers have falsified or fabricated data throughout their careers (2). Fabrication of data differs from falsification, as the latter concerns distorting data, where the former is inventing and reporting made up data. Such data can range from making up research participants, creating false laboratory results or writing down invented observations.

The validity of knowledge created by science and the credibility of science; truth and trust, are undermined by fabrication. When detected, the sanctions for perpetrators can be severe and articles will be retracted. Not only does fabrication affect scientific careers, but when fabricated data is presented to be real and is consequently used in real-life practice it can have life-threatening consequences. One case of research misconduct estimates that up to 800,000 lives were lost due to fabrication of data of a single perpetrator (3).


1. European Science Foundation, All European Academies. The European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity. 2017.

2. Fanelli D. How many scientists fabricate and falsify research? A systematic review and meta-analysis of survey data. PloS one 2009;4(5):e5738.

3. Bouri S, Shun-Shin MJ, Cole GD, Mayet J, Francis DP. Meta-analysis of secure randomised controlled trials of β-blockade to prevent perioperative death in non-cardiac surgery. Heart 2014;100(6):456-464.

Iris Lechner contributed to this theme.

Latest contribution was May 29, 2019