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ResourcesResearch IntegrityRepeat Offenders: When Scientific Fraudsters Slip Through the Cracks – Undark (Alison McCook | May 2018)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Repeat Offenders: When Scientific Fraudsters Slip Through the Cracks – Undark (Alison McCook | May 2018)

Published/Released on May 14, 2018 | Posted by Admin on August 6, 2018 / , , , ,
 


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Balancing due process with the academic community’s right to know is no easy task, but critics say more could be done to weed out bad actors.

SOMETIME AFTER 2010 — he isn’t exactly sure when — Richard Miller, a professor of pathology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, looked up a former faculty member who had worked in his lab on the popular government research database, Medline. When he saw that the researcher, Ricky Malhotra, was publishing new work out of the University of Chicago, Miller said he was “surprised and upset.” That’s because he knew something about Malhotra that he bet Malhotra’s new employers didn’t.

The issues at play here are far from easy, especially during an active investigation where the guilt of a person hasn’t been determined, but the damage (and for some areas of research the very real peril to the community) should prompt a discussion of what to do when a cheat/bad researcher changes institution.

If someone had called Miller to discuss his former mentee, he could have told them Malhotra left his lab — which focuses on the genetics of aging — after confessing to fabricating data. It wasn’t a minor case: In 2007, Malhotra admitted to performing 60 percent or less of the approximately 80 experiments expected from him, among other infractions.

But no one called Miller, and now that he knew Malhotra was conducting research at another institution, he was torn. On the one hand, he thought “it would be good for the scientific community to call the University of Chicago and tell them what was going on,” Miller said. At the same time, the University of Michigan was still conducting an investigation of Malhotra’s misdeeds there, and that investigation was confidential. “I wasn’t sure,” Miller said, “how to reconcile those two separate obligations.”

Read the rest of this discussion piece 



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