Ethics Blog Post

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.

2 Replies to “Ethics Blog Post”

  1. Thanks for this great post! I agree with you about discussions on how it is possible to “manipulate” the results of a study, and sometimes it might be hard to trust someone‚Äôs research. However, as you said, the best way is being optimistic and improving trust among the researchers. Academic research can not progress without trusting literature and continuing to build on the existing findings. It does not mean we should assume current results are totally correct or valid. Still, we should appreciate researchers’ efforts and continue filling the gaps, correcting the mistakes, and being as transparent as possible.

  2. Thank you for you blog post. I agree, research misconduct like this occurs way more often than we would like to admit. I think one of the problems we face in academic research is the idea that everything must work. You hardly ever see research ideas where the authors tried something and it did not work. However, it is important to talk about our failures so people can know what does and does not work. In situations like this, people usually falsify data because they did not get the results they wanted. Academia should push towards making it okay for people to publish ideas that do not always work instead of ideas that always work.

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