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ResourcesResearch IntegrityHarassment should count as scientific misconduct – Nature (Erika Marín-Spiotta | May 2018)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Harassment should count as scientific misconduct – Nature (Erika Marín-Spiotta | May 2018)

 


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Scientific integrity needs to apply to how researchers treat people, not just to how they handle data, says Erika Marín-Spiotta.

In the past year, allegations of egregious sexual harassment and even assault have emerged across the spectrum of science. Nature has already run several stories on the topic just this quarter.

Sexual harassment in any form is simply unacceptable (irrespective of how successful the perpetrator might be) and can have a toxic impact on careers and lives of everyone it touches. It’s time for it to be discussed in national and institutional research misconduct arrangements.

When I talk to senior scientists, many view harassment as an injustice that happens somewhere else, not in their field or at their institution. But data suggest that the problem is ubiquitous. In separate surveys of tens of thousands of university students across Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, upwards of 40% of respondents say that they have experienced sexual harassment. A survey last year by the US National Postdoctoral Association found that 28% of respondents reported experiencing at least one instance of harassment while they were trainees; offenders were predominantly reported as being faculty or staff members (go.nature.com/2ju83ox). Neither are faculty members safe from mistreatment by colleagues.
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Research culture and policies are quick to denounce plagiarism, data fabrication and mismanagement of funds, yet we have too long ignored the mistreatment of people.
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