U.S. Department of Health & Human Services ORI (only Biomedical, not Social Behavioral) Research Misconduct

A quick review of the research misconduct case summaries via the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity reveals one recurring theme.  Of the 34 researchers who currently have imposed administrative actions against them due to findings of research misconduct, all 34 of them were conducting biomedical-related research.

 

For example, consider the following:

2005 – Kornak, Paul H. – Stratton VA Medical Center

2005 – Poehlman, Eric T. – University of Vermont – National Institute of Aging & National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

2007 – Sudbo, Jon – Norwegian Radium Hospital – National Cancer Institute & National Institutes of Health

2009 – Thomas, Judith M. – University of Alabama at Birmingham – National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, & National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

2012 – Thiruchelvam, Mona – University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey – National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health, & National Institute on Drug Abuse

2012 – Smart, Eric J. – University of Kentucky – National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, & National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

2015 – Potti, Anil – Duke University School of Medicine – National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, & National Cancer Institute

 

Why are all of the research misconduct case summaries biomedical-related?  Are biomedical-related research falsifications or fabrications more detectable?  Is it simply that biomedical-related research misconduct exposes participants to significantly greater harms and, thus, warrants the full resources of the governing body?

 

As a graduate student in the Department of Engineering Education, all of my interests are related to social behavioral research.  Since social behavioral research is also within the purview of the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity, do they also investigate social behavioral research misconduct?  If yes, what explains the absence of any social behavioral research misconduct case summaries?  Is social behavioral research misconduct more difficult to detect?

If no, what governing body does investigate social behavioral research misconduct?

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3 Responses to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services ORI (only Biomedical, not Social Behavioral) Research Misconduct

  1. Thanks for the post! That’s a very good point. Maybe we could ask this in class, but a possible answer is that the ORI only covers ethical violations to a certain subset of scholarly disciplines like biomedicine.(?) Maybe other oversight organizations cover other groups? It seems like a large undertaking for only one organization to police the wide spectrum of all scholarship. Again, I imagine the professor or a fellow classmates will have some insight. BUT! while I am conjecturing, on the subject I might say that misbehavior, criminal or otherwise, happens when motivation meets opportunity (or something like that). The many billions of dollars that are made available to the biomedical research societies across the world each year are plenty of opportunity to make even the most well-meaning professionals shift their ethical lines. This opportunity, combined with the idea of making great contribution that could help lots of people may result in the case studies that we have been reading. Thanks for the post.

    • houri80 says:

      Following the link provided in Canvas, that was a question came to mind either. I explained it in my blog post. The research misconduct is defined by the US federal government in 2000. But Going back to the main website history of the ORI, I realized ORI is established within human and health services with the mission of public health and safety protection. So that is why all of the reported cases are biomedically related research misconduct. If there are any other institutes, which oversee other research areas; that’s a good question.

  2. Julie says:

    I found it interesting that a lot, or all, of the cases with administrative action against them were biomedical related. It made it hard for me to synthesize what I was reading. Some part of me wants to say that its a combination of it being difficult to detect and that a lot of the time social research is a bit more subjective. I also think that biomedical research carries a heavier weight in society. To me, it seems that people still hold medical doctors to a higher standard than other types of researchers.

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