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ResourcesResearch IntegrityLitmus Test – Maisonneuve (Miriam Shuchman | December 2016)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Litmus Test – Maisonneuve (Miriam Shuchman | December 2016)


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As Harriet Keck* registered the words on her screen, the first thing she felt was shock. The doctor and scientist at a major Canadian teaching hospital had received an email from her boss’s office stating that an allegation of scientific misconduct had been made against her. “I was trembling, I was out of my mind,” she says.

This is a fairly basic, but informative, account of research misconduct procedures from Canada

Feeling deeply ashamed, Keck tried to piece together what could have happened. She thought it might relate to research she’d collaborated on with a doctor at her institution. The project had required extensive time, often at night and on weekends, in her laboratory. Their studies were important related to developing better tests for diagnosing a disease that was the focus of their research but the relationship soured when they quarrelled over a journal article.
Journal articles are the currency of science. A discovery barely exists until it has undergone peer review a rigorous process of scrutiny conducted by other experts in the field and a journal has published the results. Furthermore, publications are essential for building a research career. For the article in question, Keck maintained forcefully that the prize position of last author, which signifies supervising scientist and confers a competitive edge in the high-stakes battle for research funds, academic promotion and prized appointments, was rightfully hers, as she’d done the work on the project in her lab. While she won the battle, she lost the research relationship, opting not to work with the senior doctor on future projects.

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