The purpose of this question is to attempt to generate a concise but comprehensive answer to the question, what happens to the researcher after fraud is discovered? I'm familiar with some consequences:

What other are some other typical (and atypical) outcomes?

  • 1
    Retraction watch (retractionwatch.wordpress.com) follows outcomes for a lot of researchers involved in fraud cases. I don't think you'll be able to get a complete or concise answer to this one because each University and research center has its own policies, and often adherence to these policies is uneven depending on the perpetrator.
    – Amy
    Feb 23, 2012 at 19:55

2 Answers 2


As I posted in answer to another comment, more often than not, schools want to avoid the dramas associated with plagiarism scandals. That is why schools like Harvard will prompt researchers accused of fraudulent behavior, such as Marc Hauser, to resign, rather than go through tenure revocation procedures.

But losing one's job is fairly likely, and an unofficial blacklisting is almost certain to result.

One other consequence, though, is often forgotten: the peripheral damage of academic fraud cases. Sensationalized results, such as those in the Jan Hendrik Schön and Hwang Woo-Suk cases, led many graduate students to embark on projects in those disciplines trying to reproduce and expand upon the promises implied by those projects. When those projects collapsed, a lot of graduate students were left in the lurch.

  • You would probably find it very hard to find a job or may even get fired from your job, depending on the severeness of the fraud.
  • Your employer might start a formal investigation into your behaviour.
  • The party you defrauded might sue you for damages.
  • Your reputation in your community would be at least severely damanged. Other researchers might refuse to collaborate with you.
  • You might be banned from applying for grants and/or have trouble getting grants you apply for.

I'm sure there are lots of other things. Basically, unless you have a very good explanation for it, you're done for (at least in your particular area of research).

  • 2
    I've never heard of a fraud case resulting in a damages lawsuit within academia.
    – eykanal
    Feb 23, 2012 at 20:28
  • Me neither, but it's certainly conceivable. Feb 23, 2012 at 20:44
  • I believe granting agencies have sued Universities/labs for grants given to fraudulent applications. I'll see if I can find examples...
    – Amy
    Feb 23, 2012 at 21:17

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