Research Community and the Responsible Conduct of Research

Text: Chapter 1, pgs. 9-22 & Chapter 2, pgs. 35-38 – from Scientific Integrity: Text and Cases in Responsible Conduct of Research by Macrina, Francis L. (Values for a Scientific Community)

Assignment — Case Discussion


Case studies on Responsible Conduct and Mentoring-

This session we will dig into two cases that were presented in the Scientific Integrity Text at the end of Chapter 2. Please read below.


Research conduct and ethics (chapters 1 and 2) 2.1

Donna Mills is an associate professor who been accused of data falsification in a federal grant application. The allegation was made to the dean of her school by someone outside of her institution. Following a preliminary evaluation of the allegation, the dean formed an inquiry panel that delivered a finding of suspected misconduct as alleged. Based on this, an investigative panel has been constituted by the dean. Professor Sarah Uba-­ Kalu is one of five senior faculty members on the investigative panel. Although the panel members have not yet completed their report, it is clear to Sarah that the panel will be unanimous in its decision to find Donna guilty of falsification. Sarah has just received a written request to provide a recommendation for Donna, who is being considered for a position at another university. Sarah was unaware Donna was looking at other job opportunities and does not remember being asked to serve as a reference. Because the panel’s work is confidential, Sarah decides to delay responding to the request, knowing that a guilty verdict is imminent. Then she plans to place a call and disclose Donna’s conviction. She describes her intentions to you, arguing that she will have a moral obligation to report Donna’s misconduct to a potential employer. Sarah asks your opinion of her plan. What will you tell her? If you disagree with her proposed course of action, what, if any, alternative would you offer?


Mentoring (chapter 3) 2.2

Ashton Malone is a second-­year graduate student conducting her dissertation research in environmental science under your supervision. During the fall semester, Ashton not only takes a full course load, but spends long hours in the lab and works as a teaching assistant for one of your undergraduate classes. Her grades are stellar and she is an exemplary teaching assistant. After the winter holidays, however, you begin to notice a change in Ashton. Her grades begin to drop, she often appears distracted, and you rarely see her in the lab. One afternoon while you are analyzing air samples, Ashton arrives to do some work. You notice she is not her usual cheerful self; in fact, she seems frenzied, almost manic racing around the lab. While working at your bench, you glance over and notice Ashton taking several pills from a bottle without a prescription label. Concerned that she may be ill, you ask Ashton how she is feeling. Ashton hastily tells you that she is not sick and the pills in the bottle are for a migraine. When you suggest she take the afternoon off to help relieve her headache, she becomes defensive, telling you she does not have time to go home and rest. You are not the only one who has noticed a change in Ashton. In fact, you have had several other graduate students tell you that they have seen Ashton taking pills from a bottle regularly, and many have commented on her mood swings. As Ashton’s mentor, how would you handle this situation? What, if any, actions need to be taken?

Macrina, Francis L.. Scientific Integrity: Text and Cases in Responsible Conduct of Research (4). Washington, US: ASM Press, 2014. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 6 July 2016.

Copyright © 2014. ASM Press. All rights reserved.


For both cases, think about the questions in the prompts. What is your opinion of Sarah’s plan for the 1st case? Are there alternatives that you could offer?  For the 2nd case, you are in the mentors shoes. What actions need to be taken?