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  Home > Ethics > Curriculum > Social Responsibility
Teaching Ethics for Research, Scholarship, & Practice

Social Responsibility/Scientific Fraud/Reporting Misconduct

M. Bebeau, 7/7/99

Learning Objectives

University Policies and Procedures

Curriculum Overview

Case Studies

Information Resources


Learning Objectives

  1. Articulate the values that undergird the research enterprise.
  2. Describe the expectations of the scientist, including the affirmative duty to monitor responsible research conduct.
  3. Distinguish the aspirational goals of the scientist from the legal requirements for the responsible conduct of research.
  4. List the University of Minnesota Policies that apply to the conduct of research and where they can be found.
  5. Briefly describe the steps (University of Minnesota Board of Regents Policy on Academic Misconduct) for addressing allegations of scientific fraud or misconduct (including when allegations must be reported to the federal agencies) and apply these steps to the resolution of selected case studies.
  6. Discuss the appropriate step for the whistle blower and conditions under which negative consequences are minimized.



University Policies and Procedures



Curriculum Overview


In an earlier module, we learned that the responsible conduct of research has been an issue for as long as there has been research. Yet in recent years, highly publicized cases of research fraud have raised questions about the pervasiveness of misconduct as well as questions about the effectiveness of the research community in 1) transmitting the norms and values of science and 2) in monitoring the research process. This module will address the norms and values that undergird the research process, and then take up the question of the role and responsibility of the individual, the scientific society, and the institution in monitoring misconduct and promoting research integrity.



  • "[T]here is a principle which binds [the research] society together, because without it the individual would be helpless to tell the truth from the false. This principle is truthfulness." (attributed to J. Brownoski, Honor in Science, 1991, p. 7)
  • "Science's very lifeblood, its raison d’ être is the discovery, testing, and sharing of knowledge, which if false, is not only pointless, but positively harmful." (Camenisch, 1996, p. 826)
  • "Scientific research in a clinical setting requires both the physicians' and the scientists' guiding principles." (Honor in Science, 1991, p. 28)


Social Responsibility

  1. Integrity in scholarship vs. integrity in science

    To arouse interest: Consider similarities and differences in the norms and values governing academic integrity (broadly construed to include the artist, poet, and musician) with those governing scientific integrity. In particular, consider the outcomes of fabrication, falsification and plagiarism in the pursuit of scholarship across disciplines (e.g., the arts vs. the sciences)
  2. The moral foundations of scientific ethics
    1. The norms of science

      Merton's four key values of science
      • universalism
      • communism
      • disinterested scientist
      • organized skepticism
    2. The virtues expressed as requirements for a community of scholars inquiry,
      • honesty and candor,
      • just and fair distribution of resources,
      • the prohibition against messing up, or optimistically, to help others out, and accountability in the use of power.
    1. The distinctive values in biomedical research
      1. Expected familiarity with the theory and/or science underlying skills and knowledge attained through formal education and certification by publicly recognized examination as a condition of "research" practice
      2. The distinctive professional goods sought
        1. "the advancement of knowledge which enables professionals serving clients directly, to serve them better." (Camenisch, 1996, p. 828)
        2. the pursuit of intangible goals, such as justice, health, or advancement of knowledge ("unreliable results can transform goods sought into a harm experienced." (Camenisch, 1996, p. 828)
      3. The profession's a typical moral commitment (expected to place society's interests above our own [we "profess" this commitment])
        1. dedication to the individual patient
        2. dedicated to the public purpose, the greater good
      4. Expected to exercise considerable powers of self-regulation and autonomy
        1. trust of individual scientist predicated upon the self-prescribed and monitored rules of science
        2. actions that affirm and sustain continued trust and support of the institution and funding agency
  3. Transmitting the values of science
    1. The role of the mentors and advisors in the development of the scientist
      1. The distinctive role of the mentor (to shape character, build competence and serve as an advisor, protector, and role model)
      2. The distinctive role of the advisor (to devise learning experiences and direct technical and scientific activities that are goal-oriented and critical. (See the Janet Landry Case)
    2. The role of the individual scientific disciplines
      1. Developing statements of aspirations vs. specific prescriptions to guide conduct within the discipline (See Frankel, 1996)
      2. Presence or absence of process and procedures for adjudicating allegations of misconduct, including attention to whistleblowing and methods for reporting misconduct (e.g., Code of Ethics of the APA vs. Code of Ethics of AADR)
      3. The "promotion" of integrity (See Bebeau and Holt, 1996)
    3. The role of the institution in setting standards and monitoring the research process (In this section the point is simply made that the institution has accepted its responsibility for the monitoring of the research process by articulating its expectations and developing policies to govern challenges to the legal and ethical conduct of research. The learner is expected to be familiar with these policies.)
      1. University of Minnesota Code of Conduct
        1. Values and ideals: honesty, trustworthiness, respect and fairness in dealing with other people, a sense of responsibility toward others and loyalty toward the ethical principles espoused by the institution
        2. Rights and responsibilities
          • Fairness
          • Professional conduct
          • Compliance
          • Authorship
          • Peer review
          • Data collection and management
          • Fiscal responsibilities
      2. Related Board of Regents Policies
        1. Academic Misconduct (detailed later)
        2. Financial or Business Conflict of Interest
        3. Financial Disclosure for Senior Officials
        4. Legal Defense of Employees
        5. Outside Consulting, Service Activities and Other Work
      3. c. Related Administrative Policies
        1. Direct and Indirect Charging
        2. Program Income
        3. Record Retention


Fraud and Scientific Misconduct

Introduction: "[F]rauds might have been exposed much more quickly if other scientists had maintained a healthy skepticism rather than been very willing to believe, or if those who were skeptical had done something about it." (Honor in Science, 1991, p. 13).

Principle: "[E]ach member [of a scientific society] has an affirmative duty to confront unethical practice." (Consensus Statement, AADR Ethics Committee, 1996, p. 858)

  1. The definition debates
    1. "FF&P" vs. "other practices that seriously deviate"
    2. Definition proposed by the Commission on Research Integrity
    3. University of Minnesota's (expanded) definition
  2. University of Minnesota's Academic Misconduct Policy
    1. Responsibilities, confidentiality, obligation to pursue allegations
    2. Procedures of inquiry and investigation
    3. Consequences
    4. Retaliation
  3. The Office of Research Integrity (Department of Health & Human Services) and the Office of Inspector General (National Science Foundations)
    1. Case summaries are reported in the ORI Newsletter, a quarterly publication of the Office of Research Integrity. For more detailed information, see the "Findings of Scientific Misconduct" section of ORI's web site located at
    2. NSF publishes a Semiannual Report to the Congress that details results of its investigations into allegations of misconduct in science and engineering
  4. The Whistleblower
    1. The affirmative duty to monitor research conduct
    2. The role of effective and timely process in mediating the consequences to the accused and the accuser. (See Lubalin, J.S. & Matheson, J.L. The Fallout: What Happens to Whistleblowers and Those Accused But Exonerated of Scientific Misconduct? Science and Engineering Ethics 5(2): 229-250, 1999)
    3. Steps the whistleblower should take (See Gunsalus, C.K. How to Blow the Whistle and Still Have a Career Afterwards. Science and Engineering Ethics 4:51-64, 1998.) (See Kevles, D.J. The Assault on David Baltimore (discussion of the roles of Iminishi-Kari and Margot O'Toole). The New Yorker, pp. 94-109, May 27, 1997.



Case Studies

The first case addresses the role of advisor vs. mentor and strategies for addressing ineffectual mentoring/ advising on the part of the director of a research laboratory. The next two cases involve a mentor and her responsibilities when she suspects that a young scientist who she has mentored has engaged in misconduct. The next four cases address the Academic Misconduct Policy and are cases involving the whistleblower. The last case includes a case that involves two academic policy concerns: possible misconduct as well as a romantic relationship between a lab director and graduate student.

  • The Janet Landry Case (Bebeau, et al., 1994)
  • The Charlie West and Diane Archer Cases (Bebeau, et. al, 1994) Whose Manuscript?
  • Weird Science
  • Stanton's Statistics
  • Dr. Bates in Biology
  • The Bob Bailey Case (Bebeau, et al, 1994)



Information Resources

Association of American Medical Colleges. (1992). Beyond the "framework": Institutional considerations in managing allegations of misconduct in research. Washington, DC: Author.

Bebeau, M.J., & Davis, E.L. (1996). Survey of ethical issues in dental research. J Dent Res 75(2):845-55.

Bebeau, M.J., & Holt, S.C. (1996). Proceedings of a symposium, toward responsible research conduct: The role of scientific societies. J Dent Res 75(2):823-4.

Bebeau, M.J., & Holt, S.C. (1996). The role of the AADR in promoting research integrity: Perspectives and consensus statements. J Dent Res 75(2):856-60.

Bebeau, M.J. with Pimple, K.D., Muskavitch, K.M.T., and Smith, D.H. (1994). Moral Reasoning in Scientific Research: A Tool for Teaching and Assessment. Poynter Center. Indiana University. Includes a student handout describing criteria for evaluating moral arguments, six cases with facilitator notes for leading discussion, and scoring guides for assessment of moral reasoning.

Bersoff, D.N. (1996). Process and procedures for dealing with misconduct: A necessity or a nightmare? J Dent Res 75(2):836-40.

Buzzelli. D. Comments on Definitions of Misconduct. Webmaster (comments on NSF definition)

Camenisch, P.F. (1996). The moral foundations of scientific ethics and responsibility. J Dent Res 75(2):825-30.

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Research Integrity. (1997). ORI model policy and procedures for responding to allegations of scientific misconduct. Webmaster

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Research Integrity. (1995). ORI guidelines for institutions and whistleblowers: Responding to possible retaliation against whistleblowers in extramural research. Webmaster

Frankel, M.S. (1996). Developing ethical standards for responsible research: Why? form? functions? process? outcomes? J Dent Res 75(2):832-5.

Gunsalus, C.K. (1997). Ethics: Sending out the message. [Editorial]. Science 276(5311):335.

Levin, M., Masters, K.J., Dresse, R., Rennie, D., & Gunsalus, K.C. (1993). Scientific misconduct. [Letters and response]. JAMA 269(24):3105-6.

Mandel, I.D. (1996). On being a scientist in a rapidly changing world. J Dent Res 75(2):841-4.

Merton, R. K. (1973). The normative structure of science. In R. K. Merton, The sociology of science. (pp. 267-78). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (Original work published 1942)

National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, & Institute of Medicine. (1995). On being a scientist. Responsible conduct in research. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, & Institute of Medicine. (1992). Responsible science. Ensuring the integrity of the research process (Vol. I). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Rennie, D., & Gunsalus, K.D. (1993). Scientific misconduct: New definition, procedures, and office—perhaps a new leaf. [Editorial]. JAMA 269(7):915-7.

Ryan, K.J. (1996). Commission of research integrity report sparks debate on science and ethics. Professional Ethics Report, 9(2). Publication of AAAS Scientific Freedom, Responsibility and Law Program.

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society. (1991). Honor in science. Research Triangle Park, NC: Author.

Teich, A.H., & Frankel, M.S. (1992). Good science and responsible scientists. Meeting the challenge of fraud and misconduct in science. Washington, DC: American Association for the Advancement of Science.


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