Research Misconduct: Policies and Consequences

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Transcript Research Misconduct: Policies and Consequences

Research Misconduct
Policies and Consequences
Diederik Stapel
Professor of Psychology
Tilburg University
The Netherlands
Diederik Stapel, Tilburg University
The New York Times (11/03/2011)
Fraud Case Seen as a Red Flag for Psychology Research
A well-known psychologist in the Netherlands whose work has been
published widely in professional journals falsified data and made up entire
experiments, an investigating committee has found. Experts say the case
exposes deep flaws in the way science is done in a field, psychology, that has
only recently earned a fragile respectability.
…In a prolific career, Dr. Stapel published papers on the effect of power on
hypocrisy, on racial stereotyping and on how advertisements affect how
people view themselves. Many of his findings appeared in newspapers around
the world, including The New York Times, which reported in December on
his study about advertising and identity.
Diederik Stapel Tilburg University
 From Misconduct Investigation Interim Report:
The fact is that the fraud with data has been on a large
scale and has persisted for a lengthy period, so that
people, and in particular young researchers entrusted to
him, have been affected profoundly at the start of their
careers. This conduct is deplorable, and has done great
harm to science, and the field of social psychology in
particular. To the best of our knowledge, misconduct of
this kind by a full professor in his position is
Diederik Stapel, Tilburg University
The Chronicle of Higher Education (11/03/2011)
The Fraud Who Fooled (Almost) Everyone
By Tom Bartlett
It’s now known that Diederik Stapel, the Dutch social psychologist who
was suspended by Tilburg University in September, faked dozens of studies
and managed not to get caught for years despite his outrageous
While it is becoming clearer how Stapel committed his fraud, the larger
question is why. In separate statements, he explained that “I was not able
to withstand the pressure to score points, to publish, to always have to be
better,” and that he felt “a sense of dismay and shame” but that he was
“sincerely committed to the field of social psychology, young researchers,
and other colleagues.”
Diederik Stapel, Tilburg University
Three young researchers from the department concerned voiced their
suspicions about the forgery of data by Mr. Stapel to the head of
department at the end of August 2011. After months of observation,
sufficient details had been gathered to demonstrate that something was not
right. The researchers all deserve praise for reporting these abuses. It
is noted that they were in a dependent position and had much to lose.
What Is Not Research Misconduct?
 Research misconduct does not include disputes
regarding honest error or honest differences in
interpretations or judgments of data, and is not
intended to resolve bona fide scientific
disagreement or debate.
 Misconduct must be committed intentionally,
knowingly, or recklessly.
What Is Research Misconduct?
"Research misconduct is defined as fabrication,
falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing,
or reviewing research, or in reporting research
– Office of Research Integrity (ORI), DHHS
What Is Research Misconduct?
Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or
reporting them.
Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or
processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the
research is not accurately represented in the research record.
Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas,
processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
– UA Research and Scholarly Misconduct Policies and Procedures
How Common Is Misconduct?
Reported Research Misconduct Activity
Institutions Reporting
New Cases
Office of Research Integrity Annual Reports,
Self Plagiarism
An author publishing the same data in more than
one journal, assuming that the data, figures, etc. are
the same in both publications, is not considered
research misconduct. (This does violate the rules of
most professional journals.)
– ORI Newsletter, Vol. 15, No. 4, September 2007
According to the ORI plagiarism is “…theft or
misappropriation of intellectual property and the
substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work.
It does not include authorship or credit disputes.”
 “…theft or misappropriation of intellectual property includes the
unauthorized use of ideas or unique methods obtained by a privileged
communication, such as a grant or manuscript review.
 “Substantial unattributed textual copying of another's work means the
unattributed verbatim or nearly verbatim copying of sentences and
paragraphs which materially mislead the ordinary reader regarding the
contributions of the author.”
“… the collaborative history among the scientists
often supports a presumption of implied consent to
use the products of the collaboration by any of the
former collaborators.” These are commonly
perceived as authorship or credit disputes, not
Reporting Misconduct
By federal regulation, institutions which receive
federal funding must have policies and procedures
in place to address the reporting and investigation of
research misconduct.
Reporting Misconduct
“All institutional members will report observed, suspected,
or apparent research misconduct to the RIO, the DO, or
their designees. Prior to submitting a formal charge, a
potential complainant is encouraged to consult informally
with the RIO, the DO, or their designees to consider
whether the case involves questions of research misconduct,
should be resolved by other University procedures, or does
not warrant further action.”
– UA Research and Scholarly Misconduct Policies and Procedures
Historical Examples of Misconduct
 Gregor Mendel – pea plant data is
suspiciously “clean”
 Louis Pasteur – used a competitor’s
vaccine, yet reported use of his own
More Recent Examples
James David Lieber, UCLA (ORI Newsletter, Vol. 15, No. 4, September 2007)
 Fabricated interviews for 20 research participants
 Falsified the urine specimens for those 20 subjects
 Caused the entry of false information the study tracking and locating database
(Also stole incentive payment and travel expense reimbursements meant for
Rebecca Uzelmeier, former doctoral student, MSU (ORI Newsletter, Vol. 15, No. 3, June
 Fabricated /falsified data in her research notebook by multiple instances of using
data/results generated from one experiment to represent data/results purportedly
obtained from one or more entirely different experiments
 Fabricated and falsified data in her thesis including autoradiographic films,
computer image files scanned from those films, and numerical data reduced from
those computer files
Your Name In Print
"Emily M. Horvath, Indiana
University: Based on the Respondent's
own admissions in sworn testimony
and as set forth below, Indiana
University (IU) and the U.S. Public
Health Service (PHS) found that Ms.
Emily M. Horvath, former graduate
student, IU, engaged in research
misconduct in research supported by
National Center for Complementary
and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM),
National Institutes of Health…”
Case Summary - Rebecca Uzelmeier
[Federal Register: April 4, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 64)]
[Page 16366-16367]
Findings of Research Misconduct
Ms. Uzelmeier's actions caused the withdrawal of a manuscript that had been submitted
for publication, the withdrawal of her mentor's PHS grant application, and her dismissal
from graduate school.
The following administrative actions have been implemented for a period of five (5)
years, beginning on March 12, 2007:
(1) Ms. Uzelmeier has been debarred from any contracting or subcontracting with any
agency of the United States Government and from eligibility or involvement in
nonprocurement programs of the United States Government referred to as ``covered
transactions'' as defined in the debarment regulations at 2 CFR 180 and 376; and
(2) Ms. Uzelmeier is prohibited from serving in any advisory capacity to PHS including
but not limited to service on any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer review
committee, or as consultant.
Title 18 USC § 1001
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the
jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of
the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or
representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain
any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense
involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331),
imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.
Responding to Wrong Doing
Suspecting a problem
Assessing the problem
Dealing with feelings – yours and others
Choosing to act (or not)
Taking Action
• Informal action
• Formal action
Suspecting A Problem
Is it misconduct, “bad science” or just annoying
Using faulty research design or outdated procedures
Poor statistical analysis
Failing to meet IRB or IACUC guidelines
Lack of supervision or training
Authorship dispute
Assessing the Problem
 Firsthand knowledge or gossip?
 Direct evidence – actual data logs or copies or
original results
 Confessions
 Inability to replicate results
 Distinct change in writing/composition skills
Dealing with Feelings
 Appearing disloyal
 Afraid of the negative publicity or lack of institutional
 Harming your own career
 Retaliation
 Too small to cause a significant problem
 Not wanting to hurt someone
 Feeling too overwhelmed to take on something else at the
 Fear of being sued
Choosing to Act (or Not)
 Factors that affect the choice
Your own moral principles
Perceived degree of potential harm
Perceived motivations of the suspected individual
How “abhorrent” the act is to you personally
Your degree of self-confidence/insecurity
How you would feel if the act resulted in harm to
• Personal vulnerability
Making the Choice Easier
 Know the rules of responsible science in
 Form or join an alliance of colleagues who have
an interest in upholding responsible science..
 Carefully monitor the relationship between you
and those with whom you work.
 Never rely solely on your memory after
intervening in a crisis.
Choosing to Act – Formal or Informal
Informal intervention is not
bound by strict investigative
rules. There is a solid potential
for a collegial problem-solving
meeting, as opposed to an
adversarial process. A problem
may be prevented or fixed
without the issue‘s becoming
Formal intervention is more
appropriate for some kinds of
issues, particularly more serious
and clear-cut ones or when a
pattern seems to be at issue.
More resources are typically
available for handling the matter
Final Thoughts
Simply ignoring potential misconduct can
plague you for the rest of your academic
Always do right; this will gratify some people and
astonish the rest.
Mark Twain