Ethics Blog Post

As I began reviewing the recent cases of research misconduct posted on ORI’s website, there are a couple of things that stood out for me. The first thing I noticed is that the National Institute of Health (NIH) funded all of them. At first, I was surprised that I could not find any research misconduct in the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded projects in the twenty recent cases on ORI’s website. This observation got me thinking if the researchers in engineering and basic sciences are soo ethical or if there is not much value in investigating research misconduct in engineering and basic sciences. A quick search on google showed me that “ORI oversees and directs Public Health Service (PHS) research integrity activities on behalf of the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the exception of the regulatory research integrity activities of the Food and Drug Administration” [1]. Researching further on this topic revealed that the office of the inspector general (OIG) is the federal agency that oversees the research misconduct in projects funded by NSF [2]. By further researching this topic, I learned that although NIH supported four times the number of grants as NSF, NSF reviewed 2.5 times the number of research misconduct reports and that NSF’s faculty were two times more likely to be found guilty than those at NIH [3]. Lokith and Bauchwitz 2016 and Kornfeld 2019 noted that this paradox is due to OIG’s higher power than ORI and suggested reforms to aid ORI to facilitate better prosecution.

Another interesting fact that I noticed was that in more than half (eleven to be precise) of the recent twenty research misconducts were by researchers/faculties/practitioners of Indian origin. I should mention that I did not do enough research to determine when they moved to the USA or if they were born in the USA. But it doesn’t take a lot for an Indian (like myself) to recognize another person of Indian origin by their name – I hope this doesn’t qualify as racism. I’m wondering if there is a cultural aspect to this behavior. I am not sure about other cultures, but in Indian culture, there is usually a lot of pressure from family and society to “do well” and “be successful”. In the context of academia, that means rising the ranks in the university by producing more publications, funded projects, and clinical trials. As such, I think this pressure could have played a role in tempting the researchers to pursue dark alleys in research. This thought process also makes me ask, are international students, researchers, and faculties at more risk to be made a scapegoat in these research misconduct investigations? I did not find any relevant articles to evaluate this claim and therefore, would love to hear the reader’s opinion.




[2] Loikith, L., & Bauchwitz, R. (2016). The Essential Need for Research Misconduct Allegation Audits. Science and engineering ethics22(4), 1027–1049.

[3] Kornfeld D. S. (2019). Research misconduct, NSF v NIH: Its nature and prevalence and the impact of their respective methods of investigation and adjudication. Accountability in research26(6), 369–378.

Mission Statements Blog

In this blog post, I will reflect on the mission statements of the two public universities where I pursued or pursuing my higher education. I completed my bachelor’s from the Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad (IIT-H) in 2016 and have been pursuing my graduate studies at Virginia Tech (VT) since 2016.  IIT-H is fairly young research and teaching university (~12 years old) in the southern part of India. On the contrary, Virginia Tech is a very well established and internationally renowned research and teaching university. As such, I expected that both the universities will have a different outlook for mission statements. I will share the mission statements and compare them in the remainder of this blog post.

Mission statement – Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad [1]  

“To be recognized as ideators and leaders in higher education and research, and to develop human power with creativity, technology and passion for the betterment of India and humankind.”

Mission statement – Virginia Tech [2]

“Inspired by our land-grant identity and guided by our motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech is an inclusive community of knowledge, discovery, and creativity dedicated to improving the quality of life and the human condition within the Commonwealth of Virginia and throughout the world.”

Contrary to my preconception, both the mission statements of these two universities have a similar underpinning objective – the betterment of humankind in the case of IITH and improving the quality of life and the human condition in the case VT. One reason could be that younger universities in third world countries such as IIT-H are being influenced by the leading universities in the west and are adapting their ways and values.

Another interesting feature that I noticed is that the mission statement of IIT-H is aimed directly towards the improvement of the whole country and beyond, unlike VT, which is aiming first in the state and then throughout the world. It is relevant to mention that IITs are premier institutions in India, and almost every state has an IIT [3]. Therefore, I was baffled to notice that the mission statement is not aimed for the state first and country and beyond later. I think the reason behind this is behind the factors that motivated the birth of respective universities. IITs were launched to support and pioneer post-war development in India in the 1950s. At that time, only a handful of universities were proposed (4-5) to prevent regional imbalance, which is now expanded to 23 to meet the growing demands. On the other hand, VT is a land-grant university, and each state was facilitated at least one land-grant university [4].

Finally, in line with the findings of Cortés-Sánchez [5], both the mission statements aspire a global influence and do not possess any quantitative elements. I think the mission statement does not need to provide quantitative details and that the statement should guide the university’s strategic plans, goals, and initiative, which often include quantitative and measurable metrics.