I have been hammering away at cases of cheating in science, trying to make them more widely known. I feel that this is a really important issue for a crucial reason.
One of the great strengths of science is that it is global. Scientists all over the world contribute to its knowledge base, enabled by their shared paradigms that are the hallmark of science. Another strength is the trust that they have in each other’s work. Scientists assume that the work of others has been honestly done and reported and can be relied upon. They rarely replicate the work of others, unless it is to understand it better, as a test of their own methods and apparatus, or it is so surprising that it arouses skepticism. It is this trust that enables science to move fast.
Peer reviewers do not actually replicate the work but check to see if the work follows accepted protocols, addressed all the relevant issues, took into account and acknowledged the work of others, and the conclusions were justified by the data on the basis of theory and reason. They do not challenge the new data unless there is a serious problem.
This is what makes cheating in science so tempting to some and why anyone who does so is committing a very serious offense. The errors in their papers can usually be detected and exposed, especially if the works deals with important questions. Much harder to repair is the sense of trust. If that goes, science will be slowed down considerably because of the need to always check other people’s work.