NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: EJ853096
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jul-24
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Science Ethics Rules Leave Room for Scandals, Critics Fear
Basken, Paul
Chronicle of Higher Education, v55 n42 Jul 2009
Upset because the University of California at Davis did not support her charges of misconduct among scientists, Melinda M. Zaragoza left her career in microbiology to run a general store in Kentucky. Although no wrongdoing was found on the Davis campus, Ms. Zaragoza's whistle-blowing now is being joined by a powerful chorus. Officials of the National Institutes of Health are considering new ethics regulations. Many individual states are also toughening rules. And several dozen universities, pressed by Congress and embarrassed by high-profile ethical lapses among their faculty members--including professors at Harvard and Emory Universities--have recently outlined new conflict-of-interest policies, mostly focused on increased disclosure of financial ties. University scientists witness 2,300 instances of misconduct each year, but universities report only about 24 of them to the government's Office of Research Integrity, wrote Sandra L. Titus, the office's director of intramural research, and her colleagues in a report published last year in the journal "Nature." Others believe the problem would be more directly attacked by detecting and punishing fraud rather than trying to publicize or constrain payments to researchers. Universities have argued emphatically against any federal interference in their right to police research, even in cases involving federal money. Most faculty members care strongly enough about their institutional reputation to root out any cheaters in their midst, said Robert P. Lowman, associate vice chancellor for research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. No system can fully eliminate all "bad actors," said Robert M. Berdahl, president of the Association of American Universities, stating "I don't think there's evidence of a broad systemic problem." .It is not clear, however, that either universities or individual professors know the size of the problem. Some of the most prominent examples of researchers collecting payments from companies whose products they study or promote have been revealed primarily by newspaper investigations rather than by universities or government. Others, like Norman C. Ellstrand, a professor of genetics at the University of California at Riverside who worked with Ms. Zaragoza and commented on her " "consistently superior performance in essentially everything she did," is concerned that "bad actors" may drive out good scientists, and is troubled that alleged bad behavior by colleagues has cost the research world a promising scientist.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A