Scientific Misconduct: Ill-Defined, Redefined

By Palca, Joseph | The Hastings Center Report, September-October 1996 | Go to article overview

Scientific Misconduct: Ill-Defined, Redefined


Palca, Joseph, The Hastings Center Report


Bureaucracies work most efficiently with matters that are well defined. Fail to compute your alternative minimum tax, and a bureaucracy will spring into action. Commit an act of scientific misconduct, however, and a bureaucracy tends to fibrillate.

Scientific misconduct tends to be a lot like pornography: people think they know it when they see it, but it is extremely difficult to define. Bureaucrats have a hard time deciding when misconduct has occurred and then proving it when they are convinced that it has. For example, after nearly a decade of investigations, appeals bodies tossed aside two controversial cases. The cases involved AIDS researcher Robert Gallo, who was accused of misusing a sample of the AIDS virus provided him by another researcher and immunologist Theresa Imanishi-Kari, a colleague of Nobel laureate David Baltimore, who was accused of fabricating data. Justice may have been served by these decisions, but they did not reflect well on the government's ability to deal with misconduct cases.

Of course, it's unfair to blame the federal bureaucrats alone. Few in the scientific establishment can be accused of doing a good job of dealing with scientific misconduct. But because federal money is involved, Congress has insisted that the government try to do better. To that end, as part of the 1993 National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act, Congress required the Secretary of Health to create a Commission on Research Integrity. That commission, chaired by reproductive biologist Kenneth Ryan at Harvard Medical School, proposed thirty-three improvements ("Integrity and Misconduct in Research, Report of die Commission on Research Integrity, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C., 1995). Secretary of Health Donna Shalala then asked her science policy advisor, William Raub, to make recommendations on how to implement the commission's recommendations. Raub made his recommendations on 14 June of this year.

The most significant - and most controversial - change the commission recommended was in the definition of scientific misconduct. At present, it is based on the three sins of falsification, fabrication, or plagiarism. The Ryan commission concluded that this did not go far enough in defining an unacceptable breach of professional ethics by scientists. For example, a scientist, who knowingly sabotaged another's work would not be guilty of misconduct under the current definition. In addition, a scientist could leave a collaborator's name off a paper despite his or her significant intellectual contribution without being guilty, of plagiarism. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Scientific Misconduct: Ill-Defined, Redefined
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.