Ethics Blog Post

Many graduate students and researchers feel pressure to show results and are in a race to publish as many high-impact journal papers as possible. It’s important to remember that even though we may feel pressured to constantly make visible progress we need to do that via truthful means. I would rather take an extra few months to publish a paper than to publish one with falsified information. Another thing worthy of noting is that while papers can be regarded as “visible progress”, we also make “invisible progress” by fixing our theory, doing a literature review, sorting references, setting up for experiments, etc. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into writing journal manuscripts and dissertations, and we should be proud of those accomplishments as well.

After looking at the ORI website, I decided to choose a research misconduct case to write about. It appears that this graduate student gave in to the pressure of showing results and fabricated data that was used in his own Ph.D. dissertation, as well as a poster presentation and grant applications. He knowingly presented falsified gene sequencing results. This person then entered into a voluntary exclusion agreement. They agreed that for three years they would exclude themself from contracting or subcontracting with any agency of the US Government and abstain from serving in any advisory capacity to PHS.

As I mentioned earlier, I think this person may have felt immense pressure to quickly publish a paper or perhaps they wanted to be the first in their field to publish on a specific topic. While it may have worked for them in the short term, their credibility as a researcher is now questionable and their prospects at future positions could be very low. Nothing is worth sacrificing your integrity and reputation for. It’s best to have honest results that take longer to obtain than to have falsified results for two minutes of fame.

Link to the case:

3 Replies to “Ethics Blog Post”

  1. Hi!
    I agree, honesty should be the guiding principle in research and publication. A part of me wants to sympathize with someone who finds themselves in this position because I personally cannot see myself falsifying my research or credentials to get ahead. I hope the public display of one’s misconduct would deter them from future dishonesty in other capacities!

  2. Hi Zakia,

    You did a good point in your blog. In my opinion, one of the main reasons leading to misconduct actions in the scientific field is the pressure to have as many publications as possible.

    But, as you said, doing manuscripts or publications being pressured by time will never guarantee quality in our jobs.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  3. Zakia,

    I agree with you that quality is more important than quantity and it is more important release quality research even if it takes more time rather than having a bunch of papers without significant improvement. I also appreciate you mentioning the work that researches put in behind the scenes and how it is as important as delivering papers.

    The way you presented the point of view of the researcher who was part of research misconduct is worth appreciation because while writing my post I remained objective, neglecting the researchers point of you while carrying out research.

    Great Post!

    Keep up the good work!

    Warm Regards,
    Sahil Dudani.

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