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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.


Data Management, Whistle Blowing

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Teaching Module

Research Area

Engineering | Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Supported by the National Science Foundation under grant EEC-0628814. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Illinois or the National Science Foundation.

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