What do we mean by falsification or fabrication?
The U.S. Office of Research Integrity defines research falsification as “manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record.” Data fabrication, on the other hand, refers to "making up" of entire sets of data or results and recording or reporting them as genuine findings.
It is worth noting that inaccuracies in data and reported findings are more commonly the result of honest mistakes on the part of the authors – mistakes do happen! With this in mind, it is important to investigate any allegations made against authors to ascertain whether or not this is the result of research misconduct, or whether this is simply a genuine oversight.
What should I do if I’m alerted to a possible issue?
Should you receive an allegation of data fabrication or falsification, please alert your Taylor & Francis Managing Editor before proceeding. They will help advise you on the next steps and provide support when dealing with the issue.
You might be alerted to a potential issue by a reviewer whilst a paper is under review, or by a reader with a keen eye after publication. If the claim is made whilst the paper is under review, we would always recommend that the peer review process be put on hold whilst the issue is investigated. If the allegation appears to be founded, the author should be contacted and the original raw data may be requested.
If further investigation is required, the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) recommend that any investigations should be undertaken by the author’s institution.