Case study: Research fraud
The high cost of research fraud
Public funds from both state and federal governments support a wide variety of research projects in Queensland. To ensure that research integrity is maintained, research must be conducted within strict ethical, legal and professional frameworks. Fraudulent activities such as fabricating medical research data or falsifying results not only jeopardise individual projects but impact on the lives of research participants and others awaiting the outcome of research trials.
In September 2013, the CCC started an investigation into allegations of research fraud and the misuse of associated grant money at the University of Queensland. It was alleged that a former researcher had fabricated research findings from human research trials that were never conducted, resulting in a published research article being based on fraudulent data. It was also alleged that the researcher had successfully sought grant funding based on the fraudulent research and that he later produced false reports on the progress of that research. It is alleged that a second researcher was complicit in these activities.
On the available evidence, the CCC will allege that the claimed research, as described in an internationally published journal article, could not have been undertaken. It will also allege that the published research article was used to generate support for a number of successful research grant applications, and that, when challenged about validity, the lead researcher took deliberate steps to falsify records in an attempt to legitimize the research.
The CCC will allege that in this case, by exploiting his reputation and status, the lead researcher breached expected high standards of ethical conduct and honesty to deceive the scientific and academic community.
In late 2014, the officers were issued with notices to appear before the court for fraud and general dishonesty offences. These matters remain ongoing.