Scientific misconduct, to most scientists, is an ethical issue in academic life. It is rapidly becoming a legal issue as well, which was underscored by the convening of a recent conference on the issue. The conference, entitled "Misconduct in Science--Recurring Issues, Fresh Perspectives," was held in Cambridge, Mass., on Nov. 15 and 16, 1991.

The average scientist now has cause to worry. At the conference, Jules Hallum, director of the National Institutes of Health's Office of Scientific Integrity (OSI), summarized the activities of his organization, which investigates cases of alleged scientific misconduct in NIH-funded research. At its start in 1989, OSI had 70 cases; it has since resolved 110 cases and now faces a backlog of 70 more. Other agencies have their own staffs to handle such cases. Scientific misconduct, as defined by NIH, includes falsification of data or plagiarism--as well as practices that "seriously deviate from those that are...

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