Research misconduct has become an important matter of concern in the scientific community. The extent to which such behavior occurs early in science education has received little attention. In the current study, using the web-based data collection program REDCap, we obtained responses to an anonymous and voluntary survey about science fair from 65 high school students who recently competed in the Dallas Regional Science and Engineering Fair and from 237 STEM-track, post-high school students (undergraduates, 1st year medical students, and 1st year biomedical graduate students) doing research at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Of the post-high school students, 24% had competed in science fair during their high school education. Science fair experience was similar overall for the local cohort of Dallas regional students and the more diverse state/national cohort of post-high school students. Only one student out of 122 reported research misconduct, in his case making up the data. Unexpectedly, post-high school students who did not participate in science fair anticipated that carrying out science fair would be much more difficult than actually was the case, and 22% of the post-high school students anticipated that science fair participants would resort to research misconduct to overcome obstacles. No gender-based differences between students' science fair experiences or expectations were evident.
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