Severity of exaggerations

Exaggeration is a grey subject of research integrity. Being visible and drawing attention to your research is, arguably, a part of being a researcher as science is a part of society. In a way it is also a natural part of being a researcher as project applications are inherently an expression of an expected progress.

In some cases it might be harmful. When exaggeration proves to be erroneous, then public trust can be damaged. Furthermore, exaggerations can give the impression that the researcher has conducted stronger/better/more controversial research than actually might have been the case.

However, in extreme cases, it might have severe consequences in the case of health care and treatments. For instance, in 1998, a press conference was held about an article in which a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism was suggested. At this press conference, the researcher raised concern regarding the MMR vaccine, resulting in a national panic for the vaccine. As a result many children were not vaccinated, despite significant effort from many other researchers and the government to inform people on the safety of the vaccine and its importance. For more information on this case see the case study done in light of the PRINTEGER project by clicking here

What is your opinion on exaggerations? Is making exaggerations acting with scientific integrity or not?