Monthly Archives: March 2015

Misconduct case study (Scholarly Integrity)

I visited the ORI scholarly integrity website and saw many cases that were accused of research misconduct. I didn’t know before that such a thing exists. However, I totally agree with listing cases of people who made research misconduct as this will help future researchers to not think in falsification of any results or they will get exposed in the same way.

After looking at some cases, I found out that most cases were from medicine and health disciplines.  I can’t imagine misconducting in these critical disciplines as this may harm people or endanger their lives. The case I selected was for Cokonis, Melanie.

Two things made me interested in this case, first what she forge was not the final results but only the assay date. She took a small matrix of input data and copied it in a spreadsheet and created many unreal numbers to make her research looks valuable. With such a small mistake, she was accused by research misconduct as any researcher could have used her results, came from fabricated inputs, and considered it as real results. This may cause sever results especially in treatment or virus control.

The second thing that attracted me to this case, is that Melanie confessed with her mistake and  voluntarily agreed, for a period of three years, that she will exclude herself from any contracting or subcontracting with any agency of the United States Government and also to exclude herself voluntarily from serving in any advisory capacity. I think this is a good step from her to rebuild the research community’s confidence in her.

Finally, we can conclude that, even small mistakes or fabrications in scientific research could lead you to fall under research misconduct. Therefore, you should avoid any falsification and show you results as they are even if they are not that promising. It is enough that your research will save another researcher time as he will know that the method you used will not be helpful. The other thing is to confess your mistakes and to show regret that you will not return to them again.

IEEE code of ethics (scholarly integrity)

As an electrical engineer before being a graduate student, I was eager to look at the IEEE code of ethics. IEEE stands for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.  IEEE is the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity. After I became a graduate student, I’m still highly connected to IEEE as most of the scientific conferences and journals, where I can get my references or able to publish my work, are held or organized by IEEE. All these reasons pushed me to look at the IEEE code of Ethics.

We can see that the members of IEEE when they made this code were focusing on the importance of their technologies in affecting the quality of life throughout the world. They felt that as they accepted a personal obligation to their profession, and they should commit their-selves to the highest ethical and professional conduct.

The code of Ethics includes their agreement to accept responsibility in making decisions consistent with the safety, health, and welfare of the public. Also, to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest whenever possible, and to disclose them to affected parties. These are the first two items in the conduct which reveal how the members wanted the good of human life and to wanted to have a respectful and comfort working environment away from conflicts of interest.

Moreover, the members agreed to be honest and realistic in stating claims or estimates based on available data and to reject bribery in all its forms. These items are actually a must for any scientific research as without these principles no one can trust any scientific results.

From their duty towards electrical engineers, the members agreed to improve the understanding of technology, to improve technical competence, and to undertake technological tasks for others.

For the scientific research, they agreed to seek, accept, and offer honest criticism of technical work, to acknowledge and correct errors, and to credit properly the contributions of others.  Also to treat fairly all persons and to not engage in acts of discrimination based on race, religion, gender, disability, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Again these items must exist in any code of ethics in all disciplines.

Finally, they agreed to avoid injuring others, their property, reputation, or employment by false or malicious action and to assist colleagues and co-workers in their professional development.

I can see that this Code of Ethics is written very well which is suitable for a large organization like IEEE. I’m not actually a member of IEEE but I should be soon as I’ll be proud to join such a reputable organization which value the importance of ethics.