If someone, without any academic affiliation or academic job, encounters scientific misconduct such as manipulated images, misinformation, and errors in the academic literature, what should they do?

Contacting the authors of these papers with evidence and possible solutions has not produced as response after weeks or months. Similarly, opening an Issue in the GitHub repositories provided with some of these papers, including evidence and code to reproduce, has not produced any response.

  • The answer to your question is the same a recently asked question on this site: academia.stackexchange.com/a/208873/33210 Commented Apr 2 at 21:13
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    To further clarify what Richard said, although your situation is different from being asked to cite papers for money, the solution linked in his comment is also what should be done in this situation as well. Commented Apr 2 at 21:32
  • @RichardErickson, your answer in question about being paid for citing is helpful, though nor question nor description in that question is not containing general term "research misconduct". It is very nice that you realized that it is research misconduct in your answer to that question! Commented Apr 3 at 19:44
  • @IvanStepanov the answer do not contain the word "academic misconduct" but answers anyway by providing a list of resources you can contact about this type of issue (although US centred)
    – JackRed
    Commented Apr 3 at 20:53
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    "scientific misconduct such as [...] errors in the academic literature" Errors do not constitute scientific misconduct. Commented Apr 3 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


You can contact the editor of the journal that published the paper you want to report. You can also contact the publisher of that journal.

There is also PubPeer, a site where you can comment on papers. It has been used to report evidence of misconduct.

In a similar question, this answer has some additional suggestions:

  • Retraction Watch (https://retractionwatch.com/) is an international non-governmental organization. I would look there first at their resources. The have had luck pressing European funding agencies and US institutions to hold PIs accountable and retract papers.
  • There is an Office of Resource Integrity in the US Department of Heath and Human Services, and they have a useful handout with resources that answer your questions and provide guidance. Their office was created to address US research misconduct for NIH funded work, but is generally underfunded for their mission. Still a good place to start.
  • The US CDC has as a similar website for CDC funded work.
  • The US NSF has a similar website for NSF funded work.
  • Contact specific universities ethics offices.

Just know that you are not guaranteed to get any responses, it doesn't matter which path you pursue. Unfortunately, not responding to issues in publications is a common thing.

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