I was very surprised when I saw the number of research misconduct cases reported by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) in the last years. For me, it is hard to believe that such acts occur in the research community. I am assuming that as well educated people, we would never do something like that. Even, as non-well educated people! Maybe, I am wrong! I was raised under principles of ethics. So, even just thinking to do something like that scares me so much. It does not make feel me good. But, here are the numbers! Judged by yourself!
When looking at the cases reported by the ORI, what really called my attention was the fact that most of them are related to data falsification and/or fabrication (see the picture above). I also noticed that most of the people involved in these cases of misconduct work on either the medicine and biology field. That was really interesting! I tried to look for cases related to the civil engineering field but I could not find anything. Is it good? Or should I look at a different place?
The case that I read involves a professor from the Pediatrics Department at the University of Pittsburgh. The professor falsified and/or fabricated data that was included in two publications and two grant applications. According to the ORI,
“The Respondent falsified and/or fabricated quantitative data to demonstrate a statistically significant difference in the expression of renal and muscle developmental markers between control and experimental mice, when there was none”.
As a result of this misconduct, his research will be supervised for three years, and before submitting an application to the U.S. Public Health Service for a research project support, a plan of supervision must be approved by the ORI. In general terms, this plan seeks to assure the integrity of his research contribution. In addition, the institution employing him must certify to the ORI that the data provided by the respondent are legitimately derivated from the experiments and that all the procedures or methodologies included in the application are accurate.
Additionally, the respondent cannot be part of any advisory committees, boards, and/or peer review committees of the Public Health Service for a period of three years and neither to serve as a consultant. Finally, the published papers must be corrected or removed from the journals.
The question that comes to my mind after reading this case is:
How hard would be for him to built again a good reputation in his scientific community?