When You Must Report Misconduct

Image: Anne MacNamara Cherlynn Mathias agonized over whether to report her allegations of scientific misconduct to the government and sought help from her parish priest. She still recalls the image of the church's art deco rectory, where she told the priest what she had learned about the ethics of research during her year at the University of Oklahoma (OU) in Tulsa and about her fear of retribution should she report the wrongdoing. At the end of the day, the priest asked, "What's the worst th

Katherine Uraneck
Jul 21, 2002
Image: Anne MacNamara

Cherlynn Mathias agonized over whether to report her allegations of scientific misconduct to the government and sought help from her parish priest. She still recalls the image of the church's art deco rectory, where she told the priest what she had learned about the ethics of research during her year at the University of Oklahoma (OU) in Tulsa and about her fear of retribution should she report the wrongdoing.

At the end of the day, the priest asked, "What's the worst they could do to you?"

She replied, "I could lose my job, lose my license, become bankrupt, lose my home."

"And if you don't turn them in?"

"I can't live with myself," she said.

A week later, Mathias sent documents titled "Allegations of Misconduct" to the US Department of Health and Human Service's Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP). She had linked alleged wrongdoing by Michael...

Interested in reading more?

Magaizne Cover

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?