Fabrication, falsification & plagiarism


Fabrication is the intentional act of making up data or results and recording or reporting them.

Examples of fabrication1

  • In the social sciences, a researcher/interviewer completing a questionnaire for a fictitious subject that was never interviewed.
  • In the biological sciences, the creation of a data set for an experiment that was never actually conducted.
  • The practice of adding fictitious data to a real data set collected during an actual experiment for the purpose of providing additional statistical validity.
  • In clinical research the insertion of a clinical note into the research record to indicate compliance with an element of the protocol.
1From: Office of Research Education and Training, University of Miami: http://researchedu.med.miami.edu/x7.xml


Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or processes, or changing or omitting/suppressing data or results without scientific or statistical justification, such that the research is not accurately represented in the research record. This would include the "misrepresentation of uncertainty" during statistical analysis of the data.
Examples of Falsification1

  • Alteration of data to render a modification of the variances in the data
  • Falsification of dates and experimental procedures in the study notebook
  • Misrepresenting the results from statistical analysis
  • Misrepresenting the methods of an experiment such as the model used to conduct the experiment
  • The addition of false or misleading statements in the manuscript or published paper.
  • Falsification of research accomplishments by publishing the same research results in multiple papers (self plagiarism)
  • Misrepresentation of the materials or methods of a research study in a published paper
  • Providing false statements about the extent of a research study
  • Falsification of telephone call attempts to collect data for a survey study

1From: Office of Research Education and Training, University of Miami: http://researchedu.med.miami.edu/x19.xml (accessed 17 April 2009)


The University Academic Honesty and Plagiarism website describes plagiarism as 'the act of representing as one's own original work the creative works of another, without appropriate acknowledgment of the author or source'. The site provides practical advice on when and how to properly acknowledge other people's ideas and work.

The term 'creative works' includes: published and unpublished written documents, interpretations, computer software, designs, music, sounds, images, photographs, and ideas or ideological frameworks gained through working with another person or in a group. These works may be in print and/or electronic media.