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Canned for whistleblowing?

Postdoc forced to leave position after questioning the reproducibility of advisor's data.

By | June 9, 2011

ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

A University of Wisconsin–Madison postdoc was forced to resign after alleging that his advisor engaged in scientific misconduct, according to Nature. In 2009, zoology postdoc Aaron Taylor voiced doubts about zebrafish images published in Development by his faculty advisor, developmental biologist Yevgenya Grinblat. Taylor was a co-author on the 2009 paper. Later, he accused Grinblat of pressuring him to publish data that he considered unreliable and subsequently aired his concerns with the National Institutes of Health's Office of Research Integrity.

In November 2009, the school's zoology department chairman, Jeffrey Hardin, told Taylor he could resign, be fired, or drop the misconduct "issues," according to a conversation Taylor recorded and shared with Nature. Taylor resigned and has begun work at a new institution. Reprisal against whistle-blowers is banned by the US federal policy on research misconduct. Hardin maintains that Taylor was not retaliated against for blowing the whistle on his advisor, but was let go because of "serious personnel issues."

Correction (June 15): The NatureNews article that broke this story incorrectly stated that the misconduct allegations against Grinblat were never investigated by the university. In fact, according to UW-Madison spokesperson Jill Sakai, department and college level investigations were conducted into the allegations, but “yielded no evidence of misconduct or other problems to support Taylor’s allegations.” The original version of this story perpetuated the inconsistency. The mistake has been corrected, and The Scientist regrets the error.

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Comments

Avatar of: Flyguy

Anonymous

June 16, 2011

Regrets the error?  This error invalidates the premise of the story.  Re-write the entire story or delete it.

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Posts: 0

June 16, 2011

Regrets the error?  This error invalidates the premise of the story.  Re-write the entire story or delete it.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

June 16, 2011

Regrets the error?  This error invalidates the premise of the story.  Re-write the entire story or delete it.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

June 30, 2011

I'm with Flyguy here. This is very bad journalism. Was this really an error? Did the investigation take place long before Nature picked up the story? I would like to see the "journalist" who wrote this article, full of innuendo, receive some kind of censure for such an omission. And Megan Scudellari should delet this artice, or perhaps write a follow up piece on the impact of leaving that critical piece of information out of the story.

Avatar of:

Posts: 0

June 30, 2011

I'm with Flyguy here. This is very bad journalism. Was this really an error? Did the investigation take place long before Nature picked up the story? I would like to see the "journalist" who wrote this article, full of innuendo, receive some kind of censure for such an omission. And Megan Scudellari should delet this artice, or perhaps write a follow up piece on the impact of leaving that critical piece of information out of the story.

Avatar of: maryQ

Anonymous

June 30, 2011

I'm with Flyguy here. This is very bad journalism. Was this really an error? Did the investigation take place long before Nature picked up the story? I would like to see the "journalist" who wrote this article, full of innuendo, receive some kind of censure for such an omission. And Megan Scudellari should delet this artice, or perhaps write a follow up piece on the impact of leaving that critical piece of information out of the story.

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