Case Study: Promotion or Reporting Misconduct...Which is More Important?

The following case study was taken from ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Researchwritten by Nicholas H. Steneck.  What would you do?  Post a comment below.

What Should Dr. José Do?

Dr. José M. is beginning his fifth year as an independent researcher. His work is going well. He has published a number of important articles and secured a large grant for future work. Based on this progress, he expects his pending promotion review to proceed without problems. Late one afternoon a graduate student hands José two papers written by a senior colleague in his department. She has circled graphs in each of the papers that are clearly the same but reported as representing two different experiments. After checking the graphs carefully and reviewing the supporting data, José agrees that something is wrong. The senior colleague, who will almost certainly be a member of his promotion review, has either made a careless mistake or falsified information in a publication. What should he do?

  • Ask the senior colleague about the graphs?

  • Bring the publications to the attention of his department chair?

  • Report the problem anonymously to a research administrator?

  • Encourage the graduate student to report the problem?

  • Nothing, at least until after the promotion review is completed?



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