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Opinion: How to prevent fraud

Thoughts on how to catch scientific misconduct early from a researcher recently convicted of the offense

By | October 7, 2010

Misconduct in science is increasing at an alarming rate, and is an issue that needs to be addressed. The constantly evolving technology, the arrival of online-only journals, and other significant scientific developments warrant a reconsideration of the existing procedures in place to prevent fraud and the development of novel verification techniques. Here, I propose four compelling approaches to nip this problem in the bud and limit the repercussions of linkurl:scientific misconduct.;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/57557/ I: Funding for all ages The number of PhDs in biology has linkurl:increased exponentially;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/home/24540/ over the past several years. Concurrently, the average age of principal investigators (PIs) when they obtain their first R01 research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been rising, likely a result of the fact that all the PIs, regardless of stature, are competing for the same funding source. But established investigators have a clear advantage. Indeed, the NIH has identified this issue, and just last year instituted a policy to give Early Stage Investigators (those applicants within less than 10 years of experience) linkurl:special consideration;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/55930/ during grant review.
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Smithsonian Institution Archives
Despite this distinct advantage provided to junior PIs, no such effort has been made for mid-stage investigators, who are at a similar disadvantage to more senior researchers. Furthermore, even for junior PIs, I believe the NIH's effort is offset by the dramatic rise in applicants in this pool and the lack of a parallel increase in the total number of R01 grants. This increasingly competitive funding environment can result in undue pressure on less established PIs to publish in high impact journals, which can encourage falsification. A more effective way to counter the inherent unfairness in the funding process might be to divide funding into three groups according to career stage, such that PIs will be competing for funding against other scientists with similar experience levels. Such leveling of the competition could help reduce the pressure on younger PIs to falsify data. II: Third party data verification Experimental design, performance and analysis are getting more sophisticated, leading to an increasing pace of scientific discovery. However, those achievements are not matched by advancements in data-verification processes. It takes a long time to conclude a misconduct investigation, which minimizes the roles of agencies such as the Research Integrity Office at individual institutions and the Office of Research Integrity at the NIH. Furthermore, irrevocable damage has been already done before the dawn of a formal investigation. Invoking an independent agency for data verification during the preliminary stages of a project could aid in generating stronger manuscripts, grant applications, and clinical trials while minimizing the occurrence of research misconduct. I propose that a third party facility, funded by groups such as the NIH, could provide such a service in an efficient and effective manner. Reagents could be submitted to the agency in a blinded fashion, and time spent on this process can be minimized by encouraging simplicity in experimental designs. For more complex experiments, such as those involving special animal models and biophysical studies, laboratories approved by their institutional Research Integrity Office can provide support, either by verifying the data themselves, or hosting a scientist from the central facility. To ensure the integrity of funded research, funding agencies should insist upon the verification of preliminary data included in the grant to be completed before funding but after positive review. Journals can similarly choose to conditionally accept manuscripts prior to data verification, but withhold publication until the results have been validated. III: Strong postdoctoral forums Despite the rise in NIH applicants, the number of postdoctoral organizations has not increased significantly over the past decade. As a result, the supply-to-demand ratio of linkurl:postdoctoral fellows;http://www.the-scientist.com/bptw/postdoc/ is skewed against fellows, thereby making them dispensable for a laboratory. This can lead to self-inflicted pressure on the fellows for data delivery to help the lab obtain funding, as well as hesitancy to report any suspected unethical actions of their PIs. To address these and other issues, National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) was founded in 2003. Despite their strong commitment to the welfare of the fellows, consistently addressing grassroot issues at an institutional level can be a major challenge. Moreover, awareness about NPA among new fellows arriving at an institution is very low. (I discovered NPA's existence just last year, despite having been a fellow for the past decade.) Invoking stronger institutional postdoc associations can directly increase the overall awareness of new fellows about NPA and provide additional support within the institution. Socialization events hosted by institutional postdoc organizations, for example, can help relieve postdocs of prevailing undue stressors, and promote laboratory discussions, resulting in the prevention of data falsification either by the fellow (by increasing confidence and awareness of ethical science) or by the PI (by creating a whistleblower from an otherwise reluctant fellow). Furthermore, postdoc organizations could play a larger role in mediating cases of misconduct, granting fellows anonymity when they report such an occurrence, and relaying that information to the institutional Research Integrity Office for appropriate measures. IV: Objective manuscript review As the success of scientists depends largely on the number of manuscripts they publish, it can be extremely frustrating to have one's journal submissions rejected, particularly when the rejection does not appear to be scientifically justified -- an occurrence that is unfortunately not uncommon with the current peer review system. This, along with the enormous strain on researchers to publish the data rapidly, can potentially lead to compromises in the integrity of their research. Recently, commendable novel approaches have been adopted by some journals, including revealing the names of the reviewers or blinding the names of the authors, to increase objectivity in scientific publishing (see The Scientist's linkurl:recent feature;http://www.the-scientist.com/2010/8/1/36/1/ for a review). These approaches minimize prejudices while encouraging constructive criticism, which shall serve to increase the quality of the work and linkurl:reduce the occurrence of research misconduct.;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/55772/ Suresh Radhakrishnan worked at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., as a senior research associate until he was linkurl:fired for misconduct;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57449/ in May 2010.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Opinion: Erase science's blacklist;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/57557/
[14th July 2007]*linkurl:10 retractions and counting;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/57449/
[26th May 2010]*linkurl:Are we training too many scientists?;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/home/24540/
[September 2006]
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Comments

Avatar of: Lou Dore

Lou Dore

Posts: 2

October 7, 2010

It seems like the title of this piece should have been "Why My Ethical Shortcomings & Poor Decisions Are Not My Fault." Seriously, it reads like a laundry list of reasons why we should not blame Dr. Radhakrishnan for what he's done. His data falsification was not inevitable and was certainly not a product of the US research system. He had the opportunity to behave responsibly like tens of thousands of other scientists do every day and HE chose not to.\nWhile some of these suggestions may have merit, none of them is a "solution" to the problem of research misconduct -- you can't teach someone to be honest or honorable and that is the heart of the issue here.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 9

October 7, 2010

It's a matter of ethics and morals. You can teach these as principles but it is totally dependent on the author. There is great pressure to succeed these days and maybe "a little" fraud in the data isn't too important. I'm afraid that's how some people who do science feel. This is very troubling and I believe just another manifestation of the times in which we live.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

October 7, 2010

I have recently witnessed a threatening behavior from a PI onto his poor associate scientist. Two days later (!!!) the scientist came up with beautiful, text-book quality results. When people with precarious job stability are warned that they better obtain the "desired" results if they do not want to face...the consequences (being demoted, fired, laid off...), what do you think the reaction would be if the threatened person is living by his/her paycheck and has kids to feed???
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 5

October 7, 2010

I agree with Lou. One of the reasons people falsify data is that they have humungous egos that require that they be well-known in their field and successful at obtaining grants. I think that if you falsify data, you are committing fraud. If that activity was funded by the federal government, it should be considered a felony and the person should go to jail.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 11

October 7, 2010

Real-time and transparent methods of what the scientific community thinks of the articles is the only way to prevent fraud. Editors cannot police and often do not have the necessary background to catch inaccuracies. F1000 is one way to do that, but there are other, more distributed ways of evaluating and publishign levels of trust. http://www.iamscientist.com/
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 25

October 7, 2010

\n\nHow about just treating scientific fraud for what it is......PLAIN FRAUD, and it should have real legal consequences.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 4

October 7, 2010

I don't agree with the comment that dismissed the suggestions as 'ridiculous' - we should admit to ourselves and the outside world that science is a human endeavour like many others (e.g. business, politics, ...) and that scientists are after all only humans, with human flaws. If we keep seeing science as a kind of "religion" and scientists as super-human, priest-like individuals with absolute dedication to their "calling", then we will be disappointed over and over again at each new occurence of scientific misconduct (reminiscent of the way we have been disappointed by recently exposed scandals in the catholic church).\nFrom a strictly moral point of view, the perpetrator of a crime/misconduct should be the only one to "blame" and not the system or the environment in which he/she operated, because after all most other individuals in that system behaved correctly, or did they? How many of us can claim that they never, ever presented the same results more than once, or appeared as co-author with only a marginal contribution to a paper, or cited others "selectively"... we like to distance ourselves from the obviously fraudulent, but I'm afraid reality is not as black-and-white as we commonly assume. \nIn my opinion, fraud in science, as in any other realm of life, cannot be totally eliminated, only minimised. \nFrom that point of view, all efforts to reduce the benefits of fraud (i.e. the "publish or perish system") and to maximize the likelihood of early detection have merit and should be taken seriously.\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 3

October 7, 2010

What is your evidence that, "Misconduct in science is increasing at an alarming rate?"\n\nCiting peer reviewed evidence that supports your statement would be nice.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 4

October 7, 2010

...or do you want to put 1% of the scientists in jail, as is the case with the general population in the US? \nThis inclination to "criminalise" more and more aspects of life must be a cultural characteristic of the modern US society. It will not help, only make matters worse.\n\nFor those that are inspired by the Scriptures, also consider "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone"\n\n
Avatar of: Jim Clark

Jim Clark

Posts: 14

October 7, 2010

Hi\n\nLike anonymous I would like to see evidence that fraud is increasing, and even that it is a very pervasive problem given the many thousands of studies published every year (month?).\n\nAlso, diverting funds from research to policing researchers (or requiring researchers to do the same; e.g., hire scrutineers) hardly seems desirable given a climate with already limited research funds available, especially outside areas deemed commercially important.\n\nPublication and replication would appear to do a good job of catching the rare (I believe) case of fraud, as shown by the cases that have been caught and much publicized.\n\nTake care\nJim
Avatar of: MARK WEBER

MARK WEBER

Posts: 19

October 7, 2010

The comment by Lou Dore sums it up very well. I wish I had seen more commentors with this point of view. The fact that ethical behaviour is so frequently discussed in connection to the scientific establishment is enough of a red flag in itself.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 2

October 7, 2010

Sorry Suresh but if you want to blame the system for your dishonesty then you're confused as there are over 40000 postdocs in the USA who are managing their careers without lying. The solution to scientific fraud is simply to teach children morals so when they become adults they are not inclined to lie but rather to be honest and accept the consequences of their actions.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 6

October 7, 2010

A thief can better tell how to protect your house?
Avatar of: Lou Dore

Lou Dore

Posts: 2

October 7, 2010

If you read my post, you would have seen that I specifically said that "some of these suggestions may have merit." What is ridiculous is that we should care what he thinks... A large part of my issue with Dr. Radhakrishnan's commentary is that I don't think science needs a central policing unit (data validation squad, etc) to catch the liars and cheaters - and I certainly don't think that we need to take suggestions on how to police ourselves from someone who is, himself, a liar and cheater. Especially one who seems to show no contrition for his fraudulent acts ("the NIH made me do it", etc.).\nI am not claiming to be perfect or a "super-human, priest-like individual" nor do I think scientists are beyond reproach. However, I DO think we should be disappointed every time we hear of scientific misconduct -- it show that we care. What is the alternative? Apathy?\nDr. Radhakrishnan had the perfect chance to, in his words, "nip [scientific fraud] in the bud" way before he wrote this article...and he chose instead to contribute to the problem in a gross manner. Scientists can and will handle the problem of scientific fraud - by revoking the privilege of being a member of the scientific community from individuals like Dr. Radhakrishnan. If he can admit his guilt and provide information about how he could have been caught sooner, his commentary will be welcome. But while it remains a baseless defense of his actions that blames his crimes on the absence of social gatherings with free pizza on Thursday afternoons, his commentary means nothing to me.
Avatar of: Michael Holloway

Michael Holloway

Posts: 55

October 7, 2010

Of course ridiculously high competition for funding is producing more fraud and misrepresentation! Anyone insisting that it doesn't has a stake in the status quo: abundant and cheap labor at the bench. The system itself is fraudent. You're really training all those poor young people for a career are you? Right. Must be at least a dozen ways of justifying it, but the end result on the quality of published work is obvious.
Avatar of: MARK WEBER

MARK WEBER

Posts: 19

October 7, 2010

Ellen Hunt has the textbook analysis down cold, read any review of this behavior. Woops, Ellen Hunt's comment disappeared....
Avatar of: GAYLEN BRADLEY

GAYLEN BRADLEY

Posts: 5

October 7, 2010

As scientists, we start with defining the problem that we need to solve. This has not been done in the lead article. The article begins with a false premise. The is no conclusive evidence that the incidence of scientific fraud has increased, but the number of scientists has increased during the recent decades. Also, there is much attention to misidentified fraud, that is, plagiarism (see The Scientist on Self Plagiarism). There has been increasing attention to training on research ethics, both at the graduate and postdoctoral level, a requirement for many federal grants. There is also confusion between postdoctoral scholars in training and postdoctoral research workers who are employees. The information on standards of conduct are out there, so self-learners, which is what scientists are, cannot offer this as an excuse for ignorance. The questions are "Is the reliability of the scientific record in jeopardy?" "Have science and scientists lost the trust of the public?" and "What can be done to improve scientific discovery?" Although the data are not rigorous, numerous surveys indicate that the scientific record is reliable and scientists are respected. Our dialog needs to address the balance among scientific endeavors: discovery and exploration, vs. application and quality control. All are needed, and are overlapping. The USA and most nations have limited resources to invest in science. How much is to be allocated to problem solving and how much to curiosity-driven research, which is the true source of innovation.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 8

October 7, 2010

In agricultural research - scientific integrity is waning as most applied research is funded by producer check-off organizations whihc have little accountability or oversight. An example is found in the Journal of Animal Science - a Dr Neil Debuse - DVM has provided actual data sets and eye witness testimony that the experimental treatments for several papers are incorrect. The universities, the Journal of Animal Science and the heads of research of the check- off based funding agency all refuse to correct the scientific record and hold the co-authors accountable when the funding agency - with substantial political power at the Federal funding level wants it all to go away. \nThe new level of research is that the exeprimental treatments do not have to be correct - it doesn't make a difference and in one case genetic lines 4 phenotypic - 8 genetic standard deviations are called one treatment - genetic line. With no Office of Research Integrity and USDA - OIG that does want to get inolved - has chosen not to be involved, the scienctific integrity of agricultural science is like the wild west.
Avatar of: PAUL STEIN

PAUL STEIN

Posts: 61

October 7, 2010

For all of those in academia, third-party data verification has been required for all industry submissions to the FDA for decades. Quality assurance, as part of the Good Laboratory Practice regulations, serves a vital role, and, noting the complexity of laboratory investigations today, should be part of any academic study where intricate methods and their results could "drift" between one operator-user-investigator and another or over time based on changing reagents.\n\nIf I recall correctly, our opinion's author has used a lack of such third-party verification as a defense against his purported wrongdoings. If such a drift occurred, it would be very interesting to see if he could actually replicate the withdrawn paper results if allowed.
Avatar of: Christopher Lee

Christopher Lee

Posts: 50

October 7, 2010

During my career, now over, in pure research and in industry, I encountered several bosses and other superior persons who were not only incredibly aggressive, but also manipulative in ways that recall accounts of the behaviour of people suffering from bipolar disorder.\n\nI don't know if scientists are representative of a cross section of the general population, but it's likely that many of us don't have the personal qualities necessary to resist unethical pressures (or contrarywise to insist on ideas and directions they consider worth pursuing).\n\nDirecting a lab requires a special personality, and it's normal for a scientist's life to be stressful. There are plenty of journals (not counting the sponsored ones) which provide outlets for work that should not normally be published.\n\nOne aspect of the discussion which Europeans and other non-Americans will find difficult to follow is the notion that it's necessary to keep at least 1% of ones population in jail. Elsewhere, 0.1% is considered a disquieting figure, given that about half of those prisoners should probably be in psychiatric care.\n\nMy proposal, having finished my rant, is that there must be plenty of retired scientists who would be willing to review, in a totally disinterested manner, work that is being prepared for publication (including evaluation of the interpretation of raw data). This would keep our brains going, but would not replace the specialist peer review procedures. Expressed more simply, a few old fogeys might possibly be able to help keep fast-moving research on the rails.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 8

October 7, 2010

As I read the article, I could not help, but feeling the same way Lou Dore felt. Moreover, I suspect that the author will proudly add this article to his list of publications and will count it as n+1 on his paper count. As to possible solutions to the scourge of scientific misconduct or ways to minimize it, as long as there are many among us who believe that this is not a serious problem and cannot be convinced otherwise until they are presented with a tangible amount of the cost of fraud or a number of misconduct cases/1000 papers or percentage of fraudsters among honest scientists, solutions will have to wait. At the moment, a case of scientific misconduct is exposed either when its results cannot be reproduced or by a whistle blower. Clearly, the number of whistle blowers is much smaller than that of the fraudsters because in the majority of instances known to us the whistle blower pays a much higher price for his/her actions than the fraudster him/herself. The level of tolerance that most scientists are willing to offer to the fraudster is frequently greater that the level of tolerance they are willing to offer to the whistle blower. This particular issue is even more apparent with institutional administrations, most of which are willing to close their eyes to scientific misconduct in their own institutions to prevent loss of Federal funding, while discouraging or even silencing whistle blowing. Hence, I disagree with those who claim that scientific misconduct today is not a serious problem. Moreover, as long as the rewards, both for the fraudster and his/her institution, are greater than the consequences of uncovering scientific misconduct, the problem will only grow.

October 7, 2010

Response to comments A:\n\nThank you very much for your comments. That is the sole intention of this artilce.\n3 points:\n\nA: The myopic view point of this article as an attempt to play a blame-glame does not deserve merrit as the aim of this article was to open a healthy objective discussion on fraud preventing methods.\nB: The self-correction process of Science is highly effective. However there is a vital need for improvement.\nC: Due to various limitations, including the length limits for the article, discussion about establishing "independent verification agencies" is evoked only in the context of U.S.A. \n\nSuresh Radhakrishnan,\n\n
Avatar of: DUNG LE

DUNG LE

Posts: 17

October 7, 2010

Yes, you can ask FDA for independent verification, you cannot ask NIH or journals to do the same, who bear the cost? can you wait for a year or so to get a paper published? I guess not!\n\nThe best way to prevent fraud is to hire ethical and tough people. There's pressure everywhere, not just in Science, ethical and tough people can go through.\n\nPlanning a career switch to be a Science Writer? Use a Pseudo name.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 4

October 7, 2010

The story of Karen, Take Two Antibodies?, has inspired this piece of thought on the peer-review process concerning many in the biology field. These days when reading a paper I?ve often found difficult not to get lost in its matrix of huge mass of data -particularly if it appears on high-impact journals. Does a Nature paper really require 20 figures with a dozen panels embedded in each figure? What about those classical one-page articles on DNA structure or DNA/RNA hybridization? \n\nI often wonder how much time and effort the authors of such papers need to spend. As one of those who never leave bench, I know how difficult, and sometimes very time-consuming, to get a piece of data-especially those involving in vivo or animal work, with real confidence. To make a reliable statement or draw a conclusion from experiments, which often produce ambiguous results possibly stemming form the complexity of live cells and especially animals, I at a lot of times had to spend several months for figure the right conditions and parameters for the experiments to yield a reliable readout in order to achieve a piece of data. In my opinion, good science comes from within: this is to say one has to constantly ask if he publishes something true to himself. Without this level of inner scrutiny of one?s conscience, there is no remedy of scientific misconduct. We all know one needs no photophop to modify their ?data? and can fabricate ?real? bands in their gels and cells in their original and ?raw? images. \n\nSome colleagues say a lot of the figures of those big papers are unnecessary or at least not essential to the authors? conclusions that possibly contain wet data might be a result of authors? response to the referee. I wonder how much truth is in it. It might be an unfortunate and unintended consequence of the current practice of peer-review. \n\nY. Bridge\n
Avatar of: RAM B SINGH

RAM B SINGH

Posts: 6

October 7, 2010

Dr Suresh has been very clear in expression of his views on prevention of fraud. However, these methods can only decrease it.It is important that we should enhance our morality and character as suggested also by other experts rather than blamming the system. We should believe in ourselves that whatever we are going to publish is going to have impact on society.\nI would like to invite Dr Suresh to write what are new facts which he found during his research on immunity. Also his frank opinion on the views which he claims that he falsified.Infact persons blammed for fraud could be of greater use for future research,because they have suffered the misery of situation.Please be kind to contact me because I wish to publish your views for future scientists on Immunity and health in the journals which I am editing.icn2005@sancharnet.in
Avatar of: Nirmal Mishra

Nirmal Mishra

Posts: 22

October 7, 2010

Situation becomes complicated when you come across a whimsical PI, who cannot see the other side of the brick wall. Either you tune your findings according to his line of thinking or keep on doing the same thing until he finds your work to match his ideas. Interpretation should be based on data obtained painstakingly rather than anything else. Those PIs that have a lobby or friends to support him no matter what he says, things become still more tricky and fallacious. In such cases the stream of consciousness may lie outside the territory of truth, ethics and morality.\nNirmal Kumar Mishra\nRetd. Professor of Zoology, Patna University, Patna (India)\n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 8

October 7, 2010

I would like to read an honest description of the thoughts, considerations and the process by which Dr. Radhakrishnan decided to commit his scientific misconduct. I believe that such an open and frank account would help the majority of the scientists who are ethical and honest understand better the mindset of the fraudulent scientist, such that we may learn to recognize the early signs of a potential misconduct,which is about to take place and hopefully nip it at the bud. Understanding the psychology of the fraudster is probably much more important in either deterring him/her or eliminating him/her from the system.
Avatar of: Alan Price

Alan Price

Posts: 14

October 8, 2010

Indeed, a few scientists found guilty of research misconduct by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) and the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) have gone to prison:\n\n\n2005, Dr. Eric Poehlman, Professor at the Univ. of Vermont, formerly at the Univ. of Maryland at Baltimore, falsified massive human subject physiology testing. DoJ imposed a 1 year prison term plus 2 years probation for lying in an NIH grant application, with a $180,000 civil fine, and ORI debarred him for life:\n\nhttp://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/22/magazine/22sciencefraud.html?_r=1&pagewanted=6 \n\nhttp://frwebgate2.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/TEXTgate.cgiWAISdocID=Cjb5Fq/2/1/0&WAISaction=retrieve \n\n- - - -\n\n2006, Mr. Paul Kornak, Clinical Research Coordinator at the Stratton New York Veterans Administration Medical Center, falsely claimed to be an M.D. and falsified clinical trial data, including that to enroll an ineligible veteran patient, who died from the treatment? DoJ found negligent homocide with a 6 year prison term, and ORI debarred him for life.\n \nhttp://frwebgate1.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/TEXTgate.cgiAISdocID=slLI0I/0/1/0&WAISaction=retrieve \n\nhttp://web.archive.org/web/20060203101242/http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/nyn/NewsReleases/2005/2005-02/200502031553.htm\n\n

October 9, 2010

Analysis pertaining to science, regardless of the nature, is at its best when performed objectively.\nI am fortunate for your comments...\nSuresh Radhakrishnan.
Avatar of: Steven Pace

Steven Pace

Posts: 22

October 9, 2010

I have read the same article as they have, but I don't see a minimisation of blame by the author, that the other readers see. To admit wrong doing, and desire change in the process are not inconsistent.\nThe solution for scientific fraud is much like the solution for alcholism. Simply disposing of the "bad apples" is not the optimal solution. \n\nClearly both fraud and error have heavy costs, and reducing them will increase productivity. The idea that we don't have to change anything is unscientific. Nothing about science, INCLUDING THE PROCESS, should ever be seen as being perfected.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

October 9, 2010

I am confused by the purpose of this article and why it was even published. It is clearly a misrepresentation of the matter and merely a list of excuses for unethical behavior. If you can?t survive in the current system without resorting to fraud, then get out of academic research and pursue another field. I agree the present system is flawed and the funding environment dismal, which can lead to an increase in pressure on PIs, but I disagree that this ?can encourage falsification?. Most people do not even consider falsification as an option, only those who are already prone to use unethical means to gain what they want. The process will probably never be perfect and will always be used as an excuse for the few who choose to cheat.\n\nBlaming the system for the behavior of a cheater is actually quite common. For example, if a graduate student is found to have ?stolen? images from a common computer and used them for his own use (totally fabricating the date), do you blame their mentor? Unfortunately it happens. These cheaters tend to be prone to lying, are master manipulators and intentionally commit fraud. It is very hard for an ethical, ?normal? scientist to even think of committing such acts. This is the fraud that needs to be purged from the system. \n \nI have no sympathy for those who have been found guilty of scientific misconduct and made public, because there are many others out there that have committed the same or similar acts and they have been protected by the system and remain anonymous. Admit you are at fault (not that the ?system made you do it?) and move on, hopefully not in research.\n\nA former whisleblower who is fed up with cheaters\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 182

October 10, 2010

\n\nIndeed, not easy to understand the purpose of this article and rather disconcerting that it was published. I agree with your comment. There is also the other side of the coin. And that is, for better or worse we are not individuals living in isolation, neither we are totally and absolutely immune to the effects of the environment (system) we live in. It doesn?t solve anything to blaming somebody else for our actions. We, however, need to keep questioning ourselves and the rest why things happen and whether and how they can be proportionally prevented.

October 11, 2010

I fully agree with 1st comment by Lou Dore. There is no excuse for defending the scientific misconduct. It mustn't be accepted and worked around. The only way to nip this problem in its bud is not to create it in the first place - by being honest and truthful in one's research activities and prestenting the results with total transparency and best ethical conduct. Period. \n\nAs a side-note, all the compelling measures suggested in this article are already in practice, by tens of thousands of post-docs worldwide. There are no easy alternatives to hard work and honesty.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 11

October 11, 2010

The only way to prevent fraud in the face of exponentially increasing amount of data and science is to expose information which is said behind closed doors. I am convinced that there were others in the field trying to reproduce the experiments and who were not able to. Those conversations should have been out somewhere in forums and blogs, in comments on papers. You can use iAMscientist's forums to express your thoughts on each paper's merit. http://www.iamscientist.com/search/publications?q=Radhakrishnan+Pease
Avatar of: james heinis

james heinis

Posts: 1

October 11, 2010

Life has twists and turns as well as consequences. What is the author doing now?

October 11, 2010

....I must insist that success of science cannot occur without high personal integrity....
Avatar of: Mitchell Wachtel

Mitchell Wachtel

Posts: 30

October 18, 2010

Institutions investigating fraud within their confines will have biases that preclude fair and impartial hearings. All make mistakes in their interpretation of the values of measurements, in their recording of data, and in their statistical calculations. One might be the most careful, double-triple-quadruple checker on earth and still have such things. All, as well, interpret data in a skewed fashion to some degree, no matter how objective they might try to be, no matter how much blinding one applies. These matters should never be considered fraud, yet it is easy to see how an institution looking for someone to blame might misjudge such matters. \n\nSimilarly, there are degrees of dishonesty. Should a slight trimming of data be considered the same as making up entire results out of whole cloth? Should exclusion of an outlier (which can be more of a matter of judgment than objectivity) be considered the same as ignoring an entire group with discordant findings? Such matters require a judge independent of the institution to make these distinctions. \n\nFinally, science is very, very specialized, such that many institutions would lack adequate expertise in such areas as physical biology, wherein only one or two persons, who may be competitors, are available to render judgments. \n\nBest would be having academic institutions create a judicial body for such things. A law school professor could serve as a judge. The accused should always be granted the right to hire an attorney and, if only graduate student or assistant professor, be provisioned one at no cost. In fact, that would be fair for everyone accused of academic dishonesty. \n\nThis applies to all departments, not just the biological sciences. If you evaluate what happened with respect to Ward Churchill, for example, you will see, no matter what your opinion of his work was, that the University of Colorado would have been saved huge hassles by such an independent board. As it was, Professor Churchill was supported by people who retained an opinion that the University was not being fair. Moreover, the gentleman sued and also appealed matters to Federal Court.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 12

October 19, 2010

There is nothing new or worthwhile in this article. It could be an attempt to cover the tracks and point fingers at system instead of admitting the researcher's failure in ethical conduct and losing integrity for quick publication. Hopefully the readers can see through it quickly.

October 26, 2010

The ONE AND ONLY purpose of this piece is to promote productive exchange of novel ideas regarding misconduct prevention procedures. \nThat is all. \nEnough said!

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