The perverse effects of competition on scientists' work and relationships

Melissa S. Anderson, Emily A. Ronning, Raymond De Vries, Brian C. Martinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

154 Scopus citations


Competition among scientists for funding, positions and prestige, among other things, is often seen as a salutary driving force in U.S. science. Its effects on scientists, their work and their relationships are seldom considered. Focus-group discussions with 51 mid- and early-career scientists, on which this study is based, reveal a dark side of competition in science. According to these scientists, competition contributes to strategic game-playing in science, a decline in free and open sharing of information and methods, sabotage of others' ability to use one's work, interference with peer-review processes, deformation of relationships, and careless or questionable research conduct. When competition is pervasive, such effects may jeopardize the progress, efficiency and integrity of science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-461
Number of pages25
JournalScience and Engineering Ethics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Competition
  • Ethics in science
  • Misconduct
  • Research integrity

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The perverse effects of competition on scientists' work and relationships'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this