Ethics in Research

Dishonesty in research is a topic that throughout the years has been getting more attention which is very alarming. Just by comparing the amount of cases that have been reported  and published on the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) website you can quickly notice that the number of cases does not appear to decrease. Research misconduct is a threat to the scientific community and science in general because it lead to disbelief and lost of trust from the general public. This limits the influence scientific findings have on the audience and represents a challenge to those who conduct research ethically. To further discuss ethics in research I am going to reflect and discuss one of the many cases that have been addressed as unethical and where misconduct has been highlighted.

The case selected is of a former post-doctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The misconduct addressed in this case is the falsification of data in a paper publication and in two grants that were supported by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Institute of Health, respectively.  The manipulation of the data conducted resulted in the exaggeration of results in order to support the proposed hypothesis. The consequences of this misconduct were as follow:

(1) any sort of research conducted has to be supervised for 3 years starting on December 30, 2019

(2) any research application or grant proposal specially any grant to be  submitted to the U.S Public Health Service (PHS) needs to be supervised and go under rigorous evaluation if the person that has engaged in research  misconduct is involved in any way

(3) any institution that hires this person has to submit a certification to ORI that the data that is being presented by this person for an abstract, manuscript, grant, etc.  is legitimate and that all the procedures to obtain it have been accurate

(4) if the person has not applied or been involved in any grant applications or manuscripts publications they need to inform this to ORI

(5) exclude themselves from advising at any capacity on an PHS committee for 3 years

The manipulation of results at any stage in your career is something that can have a domino effect and greatly affect your professional role as well as your credibility, specifically in science. Your integrity as a scientist is one of the most valuable assets you have and in order to maintain, be respected and valued for the work you do, is critical to remain truthful and transparent about the procedures you use and how you obtain your results. This is not limited to science only, but in any field that you embark. The misconduct evaluated here and the consequences of the actions engaged in, required this person to be supervised for  3 years and refrain from serving any roles in any committee that involved PHS.  Being in an early-career stage can be very damaging when engaging in research misconduct and this will  present challenges for their professional opportunities and further development.  Although, the “major” consequences are set to only last for only 3 years, the case is public and that will always be brought up in any future job interview, paper publication or grant application.

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