This role-play involves data mismanagement in a research lab. The graduate students suspects that the post-doc fabricated experimental results, which is a form of research misconduct. The realization or suspicion that someone has engaged in research misconduct is one of the most difficult situations researchers face. However, someone who has witnessed misconduct has an obligation to act and report this behavior. Reporting the misconduct, which also known as whistle-blowing, should be done in a cautious and responsible way. Ideally, whistle-blowers should never be afraid to come forward with questions of misconduct, as they should be supported by their institutions and fellow researchers. However, there are many reasons why someone would want to avoid bringing forward an allegation of misconduct. Whistle-blowers risk their future careers, reputations, and often experience psychological distress, among other possible negative consequences. Even the term whistle-blower has negative connotations.
If you ever suspect research misconduct, you have an obligation to report it. However, you should make sure that you handle the situation in the best possible manner for the sake of your career and the other people involved. If handled correctly, it is possible to report research misconduct and still have a successful career afterwards (Gunsalus, 1998). Also, any paper discovered to have incorrect information should be retracted and errata should be issued for the benefit of other researchers.
Gunsalus, C. K.; Loui, M. C.; and C. K. Gunsalus, M. C. Loui, and their students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, "Responsible Conduct of Research Role-Plays: Whistleblowing Data Management" (2009). Ethics in Science and Engineering National Clearinghouse. Paper 270.
Data Management, Whistle Blowing
Engineering | Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Social and Behavioral Sciences
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