BACKGROUND : Misconduct in research tarnishes the reputation, credibility and integrity of research institutions.
Studies on research or scientific misconduct are still novel in developing countries. In this study, we report on the
attitudes, perceptions and factors related to the work environment thought to be associated with research
misconduct in a group of researchers in Nigeria - a developing country.
METHOD : A survey of researchers attending a scientific conference was done using an adapted Scientific
Misconduct Questionnaire-Revised (SMQ-R). Initial descriptive analysis of individual items using frequencies and
proportions for all quantitative data was performed. Thereafter, Likert scale responses were transformed into
dichotomous responses. Fisher exact test was performed for associations as appropriate. A two-tailed p-value of less
than 0.05 was accepted as significant.
RESULT : Half of the respondents (50.4%) were aware of a colleague who had committed misconduct, defined as
“non-adherence to rules, regulations, guidelines, and commonly accepted professional codes or norms”. Over 88%
of the researchers were concerned about the perceived amount of misconduct prevalent in their institution and
96.2% believed that one or more forms of scientific misconduct had occurred in their workplace. More than half
(52.7%) rated the severity of penalties for scientific misconduct in their work environment as low. Furthermore¸ the
majority (56.1%) were of the view that the chance of getting caught for scientific misconduct in their work
environment was low.
CONCLUSION : Researchers in Nigeria perceive that scientific misconduct is commonplace in their institutions, but are
however worried about the negative effects of scientific misconduct on the credibility of scientific research. We
recommend that researchers be empowered with the knowledge and virtues necessary for self-regulation that
advance research integrity. Research institutions should however also step into their role of fostering a responsible
research ethic and discouraging misconduct.