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If you perceive a situation or activity that you think constitutes research misconduct, as a scientist and professional you have a responsibility to report it. While that is part of the underlying bargain of accountability that professionals make with society, whistleblowers usually act on the basis of personal hurt or outrage. However, an allegation of research misconduct must be handled as a very serious matter. Therefore, if you are contemplating making an allegation, consider the following, derived from practical suggestions by Chris Gunsalus.
Other things you should consider prior to making an allegation
- Consider it an inquiry rather than an accusation
- Talk it over with friends
- Try to figure out whether there is another side to the story
- Write it down. Focus on the science and the exact details rather than the person
- Try to develop support from others in the lab
- Do not illegally examine someone's data
Although federal and state legislation and institutional regulation protect whistleblowers, the outcome of the process is often deleterious to their careers and their incomes.
- You may not have a right to know what's going on. Is that okay for you?
- What kind of satisfaction do you want from the inquiry?
- If it's your boss, you may have to move. Is that okay for you?
- Is there a way to achieve your goals without going to the "authorities"?
- Are you prepared for the long haul and for a bad outcome?
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Malfeasance and Misconduct
Litigation, the New Approach to Research Management
The Importance of Trust
Chapter 8 Download (PDF)