The case study that I looked at was in regards to Shiladitya Sen at Ohio State University. To summarize, as a graduate student Sen was found guilty of research misconduct in which he falsified data in regards to his PHD thesis and his poster presentation as well as grant applications. As a result of the finding he agreed to not work in the federal government and to not serve in any PHS advising capacity.
I am certain that this instance happens more than we would like to admit in research. That is why I have always wondered how much can trust can we put in someone’s research. It is not that I am a pessimistic person, but doesn’t the researcher have the ability to “manipulate” the data to be what they want? They might not be as covert about it, but maybe if they’re studying a sample and changing a small aspect of the study they might get closer to a result they were hoping would come out of the study. I have always wondered how often that happens in research.
I’ve also question the process through which people and certain projects obtain grants to conduct their research. Let’s say an influential organization decides to donate a good amount of money for a research project to happen. Wouldn’t the researcher be beholden to the organization giving them the money to follow along any potential guidelines they may have? Just like conflict of interests and big donors can have an enormous influence in other fields such as politics, I have always felt that these institutions that provide big grants can have a similar impact as well.
I choose to be an optimist in that I believe for the most part researchers are doing their job ethically. I just believe that we have to be as transparent as possible once we publish our findings and be accountable to the type of research we conduct. Only then can we truly ensure that our work is serving our fields and the overall public in their best interest.