Abuse of Data

Does protecting human participants privacy open a backdoor to research misconduct?

Karen, a psychology student, conducted a research project that involved the interview of a number of human participants. In compliance with the university rules on protection of human subjects in research, she assured the subjects that the contents of interview and their personal data would be used only for purposes of the research. When inputting the research data, all subjects are referred to only by code instead of their real names. But then Karen made up words which the subjects never spoke/used  in order to

The importance of formal procedures to deal with allegations of research misconduct

Professor Richard Epstein (University of Chicago Law School) has written an article in which he emphasises the importance of "established and settled institutional arrangements" (rather than "sloppy and ad hoc procedures") to investigate allegations of research misconduct in each university. Epstein points out that there should be no appearance of bias by the person(s) responsible for the investigation. Referring to his own experience in shaping the procedures at the University of Chicago, he writes that: "in order to avoid any risk of bias, the appointment of the

Conflict of interest and suppression of legitimate results by a sponsor – a COPE case study

One case study from the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) website (http://publicationethics.org/case/attempt-supress-legitimate-scientific-results): The journal is operated by institute A, and the editor is an employee of institute A. A manuscript was submitted late in 2014 by authors from institute B, a similar type of organisation in the same country. The manuscript was reviewed by two referees who both recommended publication following minor revision. One of the reviewers noted that the abstract contained a vague statement related to the effectiveness of a treatment for a major

R (BAT) v DOH – a landmark judgment on research integrity

On 19 May 2016, Mr Justice Green handed down his judgment in the English High Court case of R. (on the application of British American Tobacco UK Ltd & Others) v Secretary of State for Health [2016] EWHC 1169 (Admin) in which the claimant tobacco companies challenged the legality of the Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products Regulations 2015. This decision is significant as Mr Justice Green discusses the way in which the Court, in the context of a judicial review, should evaluate expert evidence in