Ethical misconduct in research

The office of Research Integrity (ORI) is responsible for supervising public health research misconduct. In my opinion, fabricating data and misleading scientific experiments is very bad, however doing this in the medical field is even worse. It’s worse because the relationship between a doctor and a patient is built on trust. Trust that the doctor, who holds all the scientific knowledge, will make the best decision to treat the patient’s body and mind, and ultimately heal the patient. How is the doctor supposed to make a qualified decision if the science he’s using to back his decision up is fabricated? More importantly, how is the patient supposed to trust the doctor in the same scenario?

For me, this only highlights the importance of the ORI institution. Gladly, while browsing through their website, I could only find 33 of research misconduct cases since 2015, which makes me believe in the integrity of the majority of researchers in the area.

The case I chose to study, referred to a Psychiatric scientist who not only fabricated data, but also lied about the qualification of personnel responsible for conducting the psychiatric analysis in their research, and also used 6 NIH grant money for personal expenses, ultimately misleading the publication of 4 scientific papers. This scientist has agreed to take a 2 year absence of any contracting with the United States government, 4 years absence for serving in any advisory capacity, and removal of the published scientific papers from press. Also, a quick google on his name lead to greater detail of the case, not included in the ORI website. The sentence included the payment of over $70.000 to the government as well as an obligation to play piano in elderly homes for 2 hours a week.

This case is hopefully rare, and studying this case made me believe in the integrity of scientists. Not because of this particular scientist who was sentenced, but because his peers were likely responsible for identifying the misconduct and to inform it to authorities.

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