I reviewed a case summary about a doctor who charged with the misconduct of research conducted at a children’s hospital. The investigators found the researcher guilty of falsifying and fabricated data that was published in papers (one paper) and submitted in a few grant applications (four grant applications). Specifically, they “fabricated image data for enterobacterial infection-induced intestinal epithelial cell injury in a neonatal murine model to falsely represent results using images from unrelated experiments.” (The Office of Research Integrity, 2020).
As a result of this verdict, a settlement agreement was agreed to by the plaintiff and the defendant. This settlement included supervision of all research for four years, and the respondent must a plan of supervision for ORI approval prior to any participation in any proposed PHS supported the research. The supervision includes a committee for two to three faculty members who will provide oversight and guidance on all research (this committee excludes the respondent’s supervisor or any collaborators). The committee will be required to review all primary data ever quarter and submit a report to the ORI. Additionally, the committee will review all PHS applications and reports for any PHS sponsored research. The respondent must also provide ORI with a certification that the data presented in the reports is supported by the research record (The Office of Research Integrity, 2020).
Reflecting on this case, I feel that the ORI was not explicit enough in their case summary. For example, there are no guidelines listed on how the committee members are selected. They only state that the respondent’s supervisor or research collaborators cannot be the committee. But, there are no regulations on how many years of experience they have, if they are in the same place of work, or if they have any prior misconduct against them. Additionally, the settlement only requires the respondent to have an oversight committee, submit the work for review, and pledge their work is supported by the research record. However, there were no requirements for the respondent to work on themselves or any type of ethics course. Yes, it is important for the respondents to work to get reviewed. But, if they do not get help working on the reasons why they committed the misconduct from the beginning, I do not think the review of the work is enough. I personally think it is important to provide people with the opportunities to learn about their mistakes and educate themselves on why it is not acceptable and how to avoid repeating their mistakes again.
The Office of Research Integrity. (2020, July 7). Case Summary: Nemani, Prasadarao.