Fraud and Scientific Misconduct in Social Work Education

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 10
Words: 2583
Reading time:
10 min
Study level: PhD


The aim of the research will be to examine the effects of fraud and scientific misconduct on social work education and practice. Additionally, 80 participants will be selected randomly from the social work profession to answer the study questionnaires. Besides, the results will also reveal the effects of fraud and scientific misconduct on social work education, research and practice.

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Problem Statement

In social work education, research and practice, codes of behavior form the bedrock of the profession and define the conduct of social workers in the service and protection of clients, associates as well as society (Reamer, 2000). However, cases of fraud as well as scientific misconduct in social work research and education continue to send shock waves across the globe in the profession of social work. To begin with, fraud can be described as the thoughtful act of fabricating, twisting as well as duplicating data outcomes and thoughts along with ideas of other researchers. The aspects of fraud encompass the manipulation of data in deceptive ways and reporting studies that have never been carried out.

On the other hand, scientific misconduct refers to falsification, fabrication and plagiarism (FFP) of research findings in addition to other undertakings that are earnestly digressed from the conventional principles. In addition, scientific misconduct refers to the utilization of nonconformist and extremely inventive methodologies leading to key developments in scientific research and practice (Kirkpatrick, 2005). Misconduct in science includes sexual harassment of clients or colleagues, prejudice in recording and reporting information, mishandling of information as well as piecemeal reporting of outcomes.

Over the years, cases of misconduct and duplicitous revelation of outcomes regarding social work education and practice have been associated with impractical and dangerous policies that are unrealistic due to faulty studies by social work researchers. Actually, to discover facets of deceit and scientific misbehavior in social work practice, peer reviews, as well as study replication, are utilized. In many respects, social workers are obliged to maintain high moral grounds in the search for the truth about social work to counter scientific misconduct (Stevens, 2008).

In reality, fraudulent, dishonest and deceptive actions in social work education and practice often demoralize the repute and credibility as well as the integrity of the career. Essentially, the self-assurance and trust of society in the authenticity of social work professionals are emasculated by fraudulent behaviors. On most occasions, social workers frequently embellish social work research results to aid susceptible clienteles in obtaining services.

Principally, precise documentation of data is critical in the certification, explanation and evaluation of the needs of clients (Firebaugh, 2007). In addition, accurate documentation of data is essential. In other words, the demarcation of drives of services and interventions and recording the services provided to clients are significant functions of precise certification. Besides, genuine certification is important in evaluating the efficiency of services and intercessions offered to clients.

Clearly, social work professionals that are not sincere about providing services to vulnerable clients inspire fraud in a social work research, education and practice. Besides, conclusions of some illusory forms as permissible due to the availability of unfair regulations often infringe the rights as well as repudiate clients of the access to services (Sewpaul & Jones, 2004). Certainly, fraud normally occurs when social workers contravene the laid down frameworks to aid clients to obtain services. Considering scientific misconduct, social work professionals often makeup results, record and report information concerning such data.

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Additionally, manipulation of research materials and exclusion of results lead to inaccurate representation of information. Moreover, social work researchers normally apply ideas, outcomes and words of other researchers without giving appropriate acknowledgment. Actually, the contravention of ethical principles in social work education and practice has adverse consequences on the profession (Sewpaul & Jones, 2004). As indicated, the intent of this study is to examine the effects of fraud and scientific misconduct on social work education and practice.

Literature Review

The rationale of the literature review is to explore and critically assess important literature concerning the effects of fraud and scientific misconduct on social work education and practice.

Jayartne, Croxton and Mattison (2007) contend that the incidence of scientific misconduct such as published retractions in scientific journals has been on the increasing trend by over 1000% over the last ten years. Actually, published papers on social work have increased by over forty percent. However, approximately 50% of repudiations are cases of misconduct. Conversely, text-matching software has been critical in the uncovering of deception and fabrication. The presence of such software has been critical in conveying the prevalence of plagiarism and dismissed periodicals in social work research and practice.

The field of social work education and research is often associated with the discerning publication of investigations and tests to ascertain positive outcomes. Fanelli (2012) examined positive result bias by considering about 4,600 researches on all professions from 1990 to 2007. The study demonstrated that the odds ratio of displaying positive results and conclusions was higher in philosophy and ethics. Specifically, the odds ratio was approximated to be five times higher.

A study conducted by Martinson, Anderson, Crain and De Vries (2006) to examine the link existing between self-reported behavior and the discernment of researchers concerning fairness in the social work profession revealed that injustice in the processes, as well as procedures in social work research and practice, is significantly correlated to self-reported misconduct.

Studies also indicate that disentitlement of social work professional researchers to carry out the practice arises from scientific misconduct. A study by Wright, Titus and Cornelison (2008) revealed that the eight of the over 200 claims regarding scientific misconduct received by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in 2005 led to the debarment as well as voluntary exclusion agreement of individuals from taking part in research and supervisory roles. In addition, according to Pryor, Habermann and Broome (2007), the relentlessness of misbehavior dictates the impact of scientific misconduct.

Steneck (2006) asserted that service, social justice, integrity and competence are the core values that social work educators, researchers and practitioners should embrace in the profession. Besides, Steneck (2006) also contended that fraud in social work practice through the fabrication of the clients’ needs and feelings of self-confidence by offering tests with fixed outcomes often diminishes the dignity of clients in providing information.

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Scientific misconduct and fraud in social work education research and practice also lead to challenges in protecting confidentiality (Sewpaul & Jones, 2004). Essentially, scientific misconduct arises when social work practitioners renounce codes of conduct concerning privacy and fail to protect the identity of clients. Additionally, sour associations between social work professionals and the knowledge base normally arise in instances where ethics of behavior are contravened. For example, falsification of information, plagiarism as well as abuse of privacy is scientific misconducts that are harmful in ascertaining the accuracy of social work research outcomes (Illingworth, 2005).

Actually, deception in social work practice and education can be attributed to the economics of science. In fact, over the years, payments accruing to social work researchers from abuse of position and misrepresentation of data as well as predisposing the rights of clients for personal benefits have been on the increasing trend. As such, social work professionals often deviate from the codes of conduct and do everything for money and rewards (Friedman, 2009). Such activities portray social work researchers and practitioners in a bad light to society. Essentially, the self-assurance and trust of society in the authenticity of social work professionals are emasculated by fraudulent behaviors (Davison, 2004). On most occasions, social workers frequently embellish social work research results to aid susceptible clienteles in obtaining services (Davison, 2004).

Research Questions

The cross-sectional survey will be used to assess the prevalence and effects of fraud and scientific misconduct in social work education, research as well as practice. Upon completion of the study, the research will seek to answer the following questions:

  • What are the description and incidence of fraud and scientific misconduct in social work education, research as well as practice?
  • What are the effects of fraud and scientific misconduct in social work education, research and practice?


The following will be the hypothesis of the study:

  • Hypothesis (H1): Fraud and scientific misconduct affect social work education, research and practice
  • Hypothesis (H0): Fraud and scientific misconduct do not affect social work education, research and practice

The above-stated hypothesis will be tested based on the collected data. If the null hypothesis is correct, it will be accepted while the alternative hypothesis will be rejected. Conversely, in case the null hypothesis is found to be incorrect, it will be cast off whereas the alternative hypothesis will be suitable.

Research Methodology

The study will be both quantitative and qualitative. Quantitative data will be obtained through primary sources while qualitative data will primarily be attained from secondary sources. In other words, data collection methods will utilize both primary and secondary bases of information. Secondary research is a process where the required information is collected through existing literature or studies that have been conducted (Firebaugh, 2007).

In other words, secondary data collection is a qualitative study on the proposed topic. Conversely, Primary research is the process where the data is collected directly through quantitative means including surveys and interviews. In addition, the research study will be exploratory and quantitative conducted to establish the effects of fraud and scientific misconduct in social work education, research and practice (Sewpaul & Jones, 2004). The number of participants will be limited to 80 respondents and will be chosen through a simple random sampling procedure.

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In this particular study, all social work educators, researchers and practitioners are deemed viable. The sample will comprise 80 participants consisting of both males and females. The study participants will be selected through a random sampling procedure.


The study will utilize a cross-sectional study to find out the prevalence and effects of fraud and scientific misconduct in social work education and practice. The cross-sectional study design will be exploited since it will enable the social work professionals to access the demographic attributes as well as the perception of clients (Firebaugh, 2007). In addition, undertaking cross-sectional studies are inexpensive.


Different scales will however be applied in the survey questionnaire during data collection to ensure the scale’s reliability and validity of some research questions. For example, an ordinary scale will be applicable in research questions given that the questions will measure knowledge, feelings and experience (Sewpaul & Jones, 2004). Additionally, ordinal scales will be exploited since they represent a principal range along an evaluative dimension. For instance, in evaluating the prevalence of fraud and scientific misconduct, a researcher will be capable of identifying the working range of incidence of deception and misconduct (Firebaugh, 2007).

Data Collection Procedures

Data will be collected through administering properly designed research questionnaires, observation alongside conducting well-structured in-depth interviews with unbiased selected participants (Lens, 2000). The soundly designed research questionnaires will be administered to 80 participants comprising social work educators, researchers and practitioners. The questionnaire will constitute key items that suitably attend to the research questions.

The questionnaire will thus be made of both open and closed-ended research questions and this is believed to be of great significance to the researcher since it will assist in performing data analysis (Sewpaul & Jones, 2004). On the other hand, secondary research data will be acquired from relevant records and other documents. For this particular case, the study intends to trace the effects of fraud and scientific misconduct in social work education research and practice.

Consent Procedures

The research will ensure that the participants in the research take part in the study willingly without coercion or undue influence. In addition, the research will make sure that the participants in the research comprehend the rationale of the study, hazards and the prospective benefits of the study (Sewpaul & Jones, 2004). Further, the participants in the research will be provided with the revelation of information necessary in making informed choices about participating in the research (Sewpaul & Jones, 2004).

Moreover, the research will uphold the consent of participants in the entire research project. The participants in the research will provide consent prior to the collection of and access to information relating to the research project. The research will also ensure the anonymity of the participant in the write-up by concealing the identity (Lens, 2000).

Data Analysis Plan

In order to ensure logical completeness as well as response consistency, the acquired data will be edited each day to enable the identification of the ensuing data gaps or any mistakes that need instant rectification. When data editing is completed, the collected research information will definitely be analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively (Lens, 2000). For example, any data that will be collected through in-depth interviews and secondary sources such as the fraud and scientific misconduct records and documents will be analyzed by means of content analysis along with logical analysis techniques.

Further quantitative data analysis techniques including spearman’s correlation, percentages, frequency distribution and deviations will be used to determine the research respondents’ proportions that chose various responses. The method will be applied for each group of items available in the questionnaire that ideally corresponds to the formulated research questions. Line graphs, tables as well as statistical bar charts will be used to make sure that quantitative data analysis is simply comprehensible (Sewpaul & Jones, 2004).

Befits of the Research on the Study of Ethics Specific to Social Work Education and Practice

Adherence to the codes of conduct in social work research aids in the advancement of the research objectives. Actually, the ethics of behavior will enhance truth as well as circumvent errors arising from fabrication and misrepresentation along with prevarication of research outcomes (Sewpaul & Jones, 2004). Additionally, the research on fraud and scientific misconduct encompasses bringing together numerous individuals from the profession of social work (Sewpaul & Jones, 2004). As such, the study will enable the creation and augmentation of the fundamental tenets that are significant in the enhancement of concerted work.

Accountability of the social work researchers to the public will be another gain that arises from the study of ethical concerns in social work. For example, rules governing study misconduct, conflicts of interest, guidelines for authorship, copyright and patenting policies, as well as confidentiality rules, are essential in making sure that social work practitioners are held liable on how they utilize funds in research (John, Loewenstein & Prelec, 2012).

Through the study of fraud and scientific misconduct in social work, moral gaps that can cause impairment and violation of client rights will be significantly prevented. On most occasions, the fabrication of data in social work research and practice has often led to injury as well as the death of clients in clinical tests. Essentially, failure to put up with the regulations concerning genetic safety that puts to risk the safety of individuals will be circumvented by the study of ethical concerns in social work research (Lohsiriwat & Lohsiriwat, 2007).

The study on the effects of fraud and scientific misconduct in social work will enable researchers are practitioners in the profession to strive for honesty in the reporting of data and results. Further, falsification of data, as well as deception of colleagues, clients and the public, will be thwarted. The study will also enable the prevention of prejudice in experimental designs, analysis and interpretation of data (Sox & Rennie, 2006). Besides, the study will aid social workers to preserve private information including papers, personnel records, trade secrets as well as the records of clients. Moreover, the proposed research will promote responsible publication in research through the evasion of duplicative publication.


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