Table 1

Ranking of bioethical violations by ‘perceived severity’ and ‘number of times directly asked to do it over the past 5 years’: BIBC phase I (n=112) findings for q#1–18 which asked biostatisticians ‘to estimate the number of times—during the past 5 years—that you, personally, have been DIRECTLY asked to do this’

Perceived severity scoreNo. of of times asked
‘Most severe’ or ‘high end’Over past 5 years
Severity group I: top three bioethical violations as ranked on ‘perceived severity’ a ‘5’ a 4 or 5 Never1–910+
 q#10. Falsify the statistical significance to support a desired result91%92%96%3%1%
 q#9. Change data in order to achieve the desired outcome85%90%96%4% –
q#2.* Remove or alter some data records in order to better support the research hypothesis70%87%64%35%1%
Severity group II: next eight ranked bioethical violations on ‘perceived severity’
q#8.* Interpret the statistical findings based on expectation, not based on the actual results44%71%69%30%1%
q#3.* Not report the presence of key missing data that could bias the results35%77%73%25%2%
 q14. Did not fully describe the treatment under study since protocol was not exactly followed33%65%83%17% –
q12.* Ignored violations of assumptions since results may change from positive to negative33%69%68%29%3%
 q15. Not to mention interim analyses to avoid the problem of ‘too much testing’30%64%84%15%1%
q16.* Report power based on a post hoc calculation but make it appear as a priori statement30%65%73%25%2%
q18.* Request not to properly adjust for multiple testing when ‘a priori, originally planned secondary outcomes’ get shifted to a ‘a posteriori primary outcome status’29%66%72%27%1%
q6.* Modify a measurement scale in order to achieve some desired results rather than adhering to the original scale as validate25%65%73%26%1%
Severity group III: Lowest seven bioethical violations as ranked on ‘perceived severity’
 q7.† Remove categories of a variable in order to report more favourable results20%60%60%40% –
 q11.† Reporting results before data has been cleaned and validated18%49%40%51%9%
 q5.† Conduct too many post hoc tests but purposefully fail to adjust alpha levels in order to make results look more impressive than they really are17%61%39%48%13%
 q13.† Did not discuss duration of follow-up since it was not consistent16%39%74%74% –
 q1.† Stress only the significant findings14%45%35%55%10%
 q4.† Not report the model statistics (including effect size in ANOVA or R2† in linear regression) because it appeared too small to indicate any meaningful changes12%39%66%32%2%
 q17.† Fail to show plot since it did not show as strong as effect as you would have hoped for8%33%51%45%4%
  • *First top tier concern violations, that is, perceived severity score of 4–5 for at least 65% of sample + ‘no. of times asked in last 5 years’ of 1–10+ times for at least 20% of sample.

  • †Second tier concern violations, that is, perceived severity score of 4–5 for 33%–64% of sample + ‘no. of times asked in last 5 years’ of 1–10+ times for at least 20% of sample.

  • ANOVA, analysis of variance.