Perpetually Under Construction

Research Ethics

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The Office of Research Integrity (ORI) oversees and directs Public Health Service (PHS) research integrity activities on behalf of the Secretary of Health and Human Services with the exception of the regulatory research integrity activities of the Food and Drug Administration.

There is a location on the ORI website on Misconduct Case Summaries. There are currently 7 cases for 2016:

  1. Case Summary: Cullinane, Andrew R.
  2. Case Summary: D’Souza, Karen M.
  3. Case Summary: Forbes, Meredyth M.
  4. Case Summary: Li, Zhiyu
  5. Case Summary: Malhotra, Ricky
  6. Case Summary: Pastorino, John G.
  7. Case Summary: Walker, Kenneth

All the cases involved “ORI [finding that the] Respondent engaged in research misconduct by falsifying and/or fabricating data”. This is a symptom of the problems in academic publications:

  1. Only “Significant” results get published.
  2. Provoking results get published in “better” journals.
  3. Academic productivity is measured in number of publications.

It creates a feedback loop with perverse intensives. In the worst case scenario, self-governance in the form of peer review is also inadequate. The story of Yoshitaka Fujii, comes to mind in this scenario. It’s easy for me to criticize the system, and I can’t say I have a particularly good solution, either.

What is interesting about the cases is the fact that most of them are related to medicine. This can profound consequences on how the public will perceive new medical treatments. As far as consequences go, all the cases ended up in a 3 year probation for the offending member, and can no longer serve as an advisor. Additionally, all papers related needed to be retracted or corrected.

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