Free Essay Sample: Research Misconduct in the Lab

Published: 2022-07-29
Free Essay Sample: Research Misconduct in the Lab
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Research
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 991 words
9 min read

As a graduate student in one of the labs, a postdoc in the lab included me as an author in one of his most recently published papers without my knowledge. I want to bring this to the attention of the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), but as a graduate student, I am primarily prone to vulnerability by posting claims on misconduct within the lab. The weakness comes not only, as a result, of undergraduates being positioned at the bottom of the hierarchy but also the failure to have established myself as a leading scientist in the lab.

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However, regardless of my rank in the lab, I have the responsibility to review any paper related to my data before it gets published. Before publishing of any paper all scientist, as well as other rank members involved, should consider it and ensure that the raw data provided is accurate and at the same time enable them to maintain proper records. (Breen, 2003). Failure to do that means that the postdoc and I will be the perpetrators of the misconduct, his colleagues, other trainees, and the entire institution will lose credibility in the public eye, and the costs of research misconduct are substantial (Sox & Rennie, 2006).

In case of inaccuracy within the data provided, failure to report means the whole institution will be affected. In this case, if I fail to report the incident to the ORI, I will be breaking the integrity of research because I would be failing to comply with research notions such as plagiarism, authorship, whistleblowing, conflict of interest and research misconduct entirely (Fanelli, 2009). Reporting the issue will also most likely lead to retaliation even if only a preliminary assessment is carried out on the doc involved in the misconduct. Vengeance, in this case, means, lack of support from the postdocs, isolation within the institution, deployment of my dissertation as well as jeorpadization of my research and work which in most cases could stand for the destruction of my research work during my absence.

If I report the issue, the ORI will hold the institution as the whole responsible, and everybody will be investigated, and in this case, the best appropriate option would be to leave the lab. Exposure also means that the PI will be questioned hence the institution will be able to build trust by following up and ensuring that he reviews all the data provided. As a PI his primary function is to ensure that all scientists are treated equally, and with the same standards, his involvement requires him to ensure there is work progress and that everyone's data substantiates to their hypothesis.

On the other hand as a postdoc, having worked so hard to obtain the desired results on my experiments to publish a paper all my efforts have failed to yield fruit. Another postdoc in the same lab is doing very well as he is publishing papers and his tests are acquiring great results which makes my mentor extremely happy.

The problem is that despite the many hours I spend working, I have not been able to get results, so I have decided to fabricate data to obtain desired results (John, Loewenstein & Prelec, 2012). Data fabrication refers to the practice of coming up with possible data and results and recording them. This is among the most severe offenses in scientific research, and the consequences are fatal. Committing this offense would lead to a tone of undesirable outcomes for me, the laboratory and the institution at vast because it challenges the credibility of all the parties involved in the research efforts. For instance, I know that like many researchers before me, I could lose my job for wasting financial and human resources.

Many academic institutions are rigorous, and there are high stakes involved in research misconduct thus researchers found guilty are permanently blacklisted from their profession, and all reputable research institutions would never hire them. Funding sources would also never consider sponsoring the work of such a researcher. Therefore, this would technically lead to the end of my research career. I also know that research misconduct breaches the code of conduct for researchers, which leads to a variety of offenses such as data falsification, fabrication, and plagiarism (FFP). Since the integrity of research is solely based on data integrity and record, this would mean that I have broken the entire integrity of investigation (Miao, Luo, Lingling, Zhang, Peng, Yang & Zhang, 2017). FFP calls data integrity and data record into question as it represents critical ethical issues in research

Also, the financial costs of data fabrication extend beyond the endowment given to support the work. Besides, if I were discovered, the institution would have to investigate for misconduct, which is very expensive (Michalek, Hutson, Wicher & Trump 2010). There is also a tone of other financial costs implicated by such malpractice ranging from consulting fees to legal expenses to salaries for the witnesses involved in the investigations. Consequently, scientists who falsify or fabricate data experience a substantial decrease in productivity and this affects the entire institution because it changes its reputation and public image.


Breen, K. J. (2003). Misconduct in medical research: whose responsibility? Internal medicine journal, 33(4), 186-191.

Fanelli, D. (2009). How many scientists fabricate and falsify research? A systematic review and meta-analysis of survey data. PloS one, 4(5), e5738.

John, L. K., Loewenstein, G., & Prelec, D. (2012). Measuring the prevalence of questionable research practices with incentives for truth-telling. Psychological science, 23(5), 524-532.

Miao, M., Luo, X., Lingling, Y. U., Zhang, H., Peng, B., Yang, X. U., ... & Zhang, P. (2017). Research on scientific research integrity behavior and knowledge of medical postgraduates. Chinese Journal of Medical Science Research Management, 30(6), 443-447.

Michalek AM, Hutson AD, Wicher CP, Trump DL (2010). The Costs and Underappreciated Consequences of Research Misconduct: A Case Study. PLoS Med 7(8): e1000318.

Sox, H. C., & Rennie, D. (2006). Research misconduct, retraction, and cleansing the medical literature: lessons from the Poehlman case. Annals of Internal Medicine, 144(8), 609-613.

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