Ethics should be applied to every part of our lives, but “scientific research” is much more sensitive in terms of ethical behaviors than other ordinary things. Because scientific results affect so many people, and all researchers should aware their responsibility for other people’s lives. They are also responsible for public perception. Any kinds of unethical behavior or activity lead to damage public’s trust in science.
According to ORI (The Office of Research Integrity)’s case summaries, there are so many research misconduct cases noticed and most of them are not available anymore due to their administrative action periods’ expiration. In other words, there are so many different misconducts cases listed on the page since the early 2000s, and these are the only a small part of the whole. I surprised when I saw that many cases on the list, and I even more surprised when I saw that this is not the whole list. I especially surprised when I read them and their way of falsifying data.
Graduate student Meredyth M. Forbes’s case in 2016 is an interesting one. She falsified and fabricated data while she was a Ph.D. student in Medical school. Research misconducts should always be intentional, but this is more than that, I think. She fabricated numbers in data, and created images in Photoshop. She did not use the actual results from her experiments. I did not understand why she really modified the data while she spent a good amount of time to get some results through experiments. Because I checked her resume from the internet and saw that she was working in a lab and her job was related to that research. So, she supposed to conduct some experiments. Then, the real question is: Why did not she use those results even if they did not support her hypothesis? What was her motivation? Also, she was taking some grants at that time and she had another/additional responsibility to those institutions. After her falsification of data in 3 papers and 4 presentations, the situation was realized and her career was destroyed permanently even if she was penalized for 3 years in total. When I also checked her career through the internet, she had to change her career from medicine to web design after 2016. So, she paid that fraud’s result seriously. She even could not finish her Ph.D. after this case and only has masters degree right now.
Since experiments are not easy to conduct anytime, it should be really hard to detect those misconducts. But, when those are noticed, enforcement is applied seriously. To prevent those kinds of misconducts, ethics should be understood by researchers very well before they start to conduct research. For this “understanding”, institutions can provide lectures, face to face interviews, or any other written protocols in advance.