For the last five months, representatives of higher education associations and scientific societies have been working out guidelines on research fraud and misconduct The goal is to help universities to construct a process for dealing with any charges of impropriety made against members of faculty or staff. Universities must, by law, have such a process or forfeit eligibility for National Institutes of Health funding, and there are good reasons to believe that at least some institutions can, with help, improve their ability to handle these difficult cases.

This is an important undertaking. Unless universities do, and are seen to do, a better job of dealing with fraud and misconduct than has been the norm in recent years, they run the risk of the government stepping in to take charge. In fact, the Congress almost passed a proposal before it adjourned in October that would have been a disaster for science...

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