Debates over ethics will never end, it seems. And one of the oldest and most incurable of dilemmas we face have to do with ends and means.
Most of us humans -- though few of us agree on just where, or in what scenarios the "proper" line should be drawn -- agree that there are situations in which the end justifies the means. Some examples are: killing a fellow human in self-defense; killing violent criminals to make an example of them to potential others; killing enemy combattants in wars; killing innocent non-combattants as "collateral damage," where that may assure our national security; betraying the trust of a friend if that friend has violated a law we believe should be upheld; telling a mother her baby is beautiful, when we do not actually think so...
Perhaps there have been instances in which a professor plagiarizes a student who has made a brilliant observation or discovery, and where the professor doubts the student will succeed, as he would, in availing the world of that important tid bit (one of mine did once).
More and more takings of liberties in reporting outcomes of experiments are being uncovered these days. More and more peer review papers are being found to be "doctored," or at least "slanted" a bit to please a patron or a potential grant source.
Many of us would agree that personal benefit or advantage, just for self-advancement, or academic survival, or job survival, or for personal greed, or for sake of gaining popularity or an enhanced reputation among colleagues is never a case of the end justifying the means.
Ethical normatives are not as simple and clear and obvious -- not as cut and dried -- as casual thinking might lead us to suppose.
In science, as in law, as in politics, as in accounting standards, as in just about every form of human experience... there is no empirical way to test and find any grounds for where to draw a fine straight line between studying nature in just the right way, and studying it the wrong way.
There's a whole lot of gray area between what each and all would say is absolutely unacceptable and absolutely okay.
Maybe that's why we do best to have panels of judges to kick around the details of a misreporting, rather than try to make some one-size-fits-all rules that will settle things instantly, in each and every scenario.
Is the instant case (set out in this article) clearly beyond the pale of any extenuation?
I think so. But that's just my take on it. Yours may be better.