Ethics (Neumeister)

A case of misconduct was brought about alleging that Dr. Neumeister of NYU engaged in falsifying information in research that was funded by outside grants.  The part of this case study that I found interesting was the fact that a settlement was garnered.  The settlement included a Voluntary Exclusion Agreement in order to conclude the investigation.  What I find particularly interesting is that by coming to a settlement, Dr. Neumeister never had to admit any wrongdoing.  In a case where outside money is granted in order to conduct what, I’m sure, any organization would assume is legitimate research, I believe that an admission of guilt is in order and possible reimbursement of funds.  Normally, I would not assume guilt but as part of the agreement Neumeister ‘voluntarily’ gave up certain research privileges, which seems to me to be admitting, at least, some negligence.

The bigger picture here is why do researchers commit these acts of ethics violations.  It is not to further science.  Is it to fill a quota of getting published? Is it to try to make a name for themselves? Is it in order to substantiate grant money?  I’m sure some or all these reasons apply in some cases but the crux of the problem ultimately comes down to ethics, both the personal ethics of the researcher and the professional ethics of the discipline.  Especially in the medical field, a case like this should be looked into closer, considering the health risks that are involved.  A settlement and a ‘voluntarily’ 2 year ban on research doesn’t seem to me to be sufficient.  The lack of ethics displayed in this case not only diminishes any future research done by Neumeister but also taints research in the field as a whole.

2 Replies to “Ethics (Neumeister)”

  1. After perusing a couple of case studies, I too found myself asking the very same questions. I agree that it is rather unsatisfying that the accused are not required to provide reasons and in this case even an admission of guilt. If I had to guess, the reason for the seemingly inadequate conclusions to many of these stories are because it is most likely in each of the parties’ best interests to get the matter settled as quickly and quietly as possible. No doubt there is much embarrassment for the accused, the source of funding, and the research institution and a quick resolution may benefit all involved. Overall, I agree that the lack of ethics diminishes future research and progress and it is sad that patients or other people ultimately pay the price.

  2. Thank you for your post. I believe that the conflicts of interest that may appear through the study should be indicated before starting the research, specially when humans are participating in the research. There are many advantages of indicating these types of interests and one of them is that the researcher will understand the seriousness and importance of doing his work with ethical standards. In my opinion, the reason behind misconducting research is not important compared to the size of damage that this type of action may cause to the participants. So researchers should be fully aware of the sequences.

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