Research misconduct case of Dr. Doreian

(http://ori.dhhs.gov/content/case-summary-doreian-bryan-w)

Dr. Doreian is a former postdoctor from Department of Dermatology in Case Western Reserve University and his research is about the molecular regulation of certain disease in cell. ORI has found that he falsified numerical values in his published paper including falsified the quantification of his sample, falsified numeric value to fit his hypothesis and make up data.

In biology, many experiments need a long time to finish a whole cycle, especially when working with animal or cell samples. After injecting certain gene or components, the living cells or animals need some time to grow and they have to be kept alive for a period of time due to the observation requirement. Thus, if the experiment is failed or there are several samples are lost (animals died during the experiment), it needs a long time to do it all over again and sometimes it is even impossible to do it again. The problem is that other groups who are doing a similar work at the same may have the published paper already, which means the time and money consumed on this failed work was all gone with the wind. This probably is the reason for Dr.Doreian to lie on the number of samples used in his research. However, it never can be the excuse for the biologists to cheat on their works. Many mistakes from protocol or the design of the experiments can be avoided by doing pre-experiment or having a discussion with the experienced researchers. If a problem keeps happening in the experiment, scientists should figure out the possible solutions instead of avoiding this problem by simply making up data. It is unfair for the other peers and it is dangerous for the whole field since other researches may be based on this false results.

Also, Dr. Doreian made up data by “multiplying the experimental values by 100 to match the magnitude of the values” presented in his manuscript. This reminds me that there is another misconduct in research is falsified express the data. Sometimes in an experiment, the results are not significantly different from each other and the difference in the bar graph is not obvious. The misconduct is done by enlarge the number of coordinate to amplify the distance among samples and makes them looks like significantly different from each other. Besides, some scientists try to hit their hypothesis by misread their results and lead the conclusion to the “optimal direction”. These kinds of misconducts are as dangerous as making up data.

The reason for the misconduct in researches may be various, but the misconducting behaviors are almost all for having more published papers. It probably comes from the pressure to pursue tenure and survive in the academic world. However, when these scientists get tenure, can they correct their professional codes and never make up data which lead to the easiest way for the publications? On the other hand, if the pressure in academic works is keep increasing, can we find another way to protect the academic freedom for the young scientists? I think it is still a controversial. But scientists should establish their own professional codes and insist their principles when doing research and win the respect.

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