There's a big research scandal that's been coming on for a while in the Netherlands. I haven't covered it, since it's in academic psychology, and thus pretty far out of my field, but some of the behavior in it is well worth noting. Here's a rundown from Science on Diederik Stapel, who appears to have forged scores of studies over the years. It seems that he rarely bothered to collect actual data, preferring to just condense it out of thin air to save time and effort:
Many of Stapel's students graduated without having ever run an experiment, the report says. Stapel told them that their time was better spent analyzing data and writing. The commission writes that Stapel was "lord of the data" in his collaborations. It says colleagues or students who asked to see raw data were given excuses or even threatened and insulted.
Here's more from Nature, via Scientific American. At least two earlier groups of whistleblowers had raised questions about Stapel's work, the commission found. No one followed up on their concerns, however. . .His colleagues, when they failed to replicate the results, tended to blame themselves, the report says. Among Stapel's colleagues, the description of data as too good to be true "was a heartfelt compliment to his skill and creativity," the report says.
Well, he did have skill and creativity - I mean, we're talking about someone who's published over 150 papers in the last seven years. And that means that he wasn't lazy, either, because keeping that many balls in the air is no small job. No, what we have here is an industrious, committed, fraud with a real talent for his chosen line of work: fakery. I'd like to think that it's somewhat easier to get away with this (for this long) in a social science field, but then, there's Jan-Hendrik Schön to think about. So I'm not sure that my high ground is all that high.
The same old lessons apply (". . .And the Gods of the Copybook Headings / limped up to explain it once more"): if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. If multiple people can't reproduce what's supposed to be a scientific result, then there may well be something wrong with it. And if someone that you're working for or with won't show you raw data, then head for the door, because nothing but trouble can ensue. The alarm bells have at that point gone off, whether you can hear them or not.