Ethics in Scientific Research: A Reading List

Sociology of Science

  1. John P.A. Ioannidis in PLoS Medicine (30 August 2005): Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. This article had a huge impact when it appeared. It continues to be discussed for its insights into research design and statistical analysis.

Community / Government Initiatives

  1. The Singapore Statement on Research Integrity
  2. ResearchIntegrity.Org is a site run by Prof. Nicholas H. Steneck, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Michigan. It hosts an interactive version of ORI Introduction to the Responsible Conduct of Research — with case studies.

Articles on Misconduct and Fraud in Scinece

  1. Carl Zimmer in NYTimes (1 October 2012): Misconduct Widespread in Retracted Science Papers, Study Finds.
  2. Virginia Hughes at Only Human (NatGeo blog) (25 June 2013): So Science Gets It Wrong. Then What? [In the second half, she talks about how difficult it could be to correct the record after a sloppy study makes it to a journal].

Defense of Scientists against Allegations

  1. Daniel Kennefick in Physics Today (March 2009): Testing relativity from the 1919 eclipse— a question of bias. Defends Arthur Eddington against allegations “[casting] doubt on the soundness of [his] famous experiment” in 1919, the first experimental “victory” for Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Major Misconduct Cases

  1. Jeneen Interlandi in NYTimes (22 October 2006): An Unwelcome Discovery: Eric Poehlman of the University of Vermont is the first academic researcher sent to prison for fraud — not (just) the academic variety, but the financial one of lying to the government in grant applications.
  2. Yudhijit Bhattacharjee in NYTimes (26 April 2013): The Mind of a Con Man: Diederik Stapel’s audacious academic fraud, a revealing portrait of the Dutch psychologist who fabricated data out of thin air, and published them in many publications (as many as 55), including one in Science, over many years. It is revealing in another sense as well: the kind of “gee-whiz” articles that journals appear to prefer (see Martin Enserink’s post, below). The man even gave a TEDx talk (the missing Q&A is here at around 10:00 min).

    This affair led to much soul-searching, especially within the field of social psychology. See, for example:

    See also: The Wikipedia entry on Diederik Stapel.

  3. Nicholas Wade in NYTimes: Expert on Morality Is on Leave After Research Inquiry. The “expert” in the title refers to Marc Hauser who left Harvard after the scandal broke. While Harvard conducted its own investigation, its report was never published [Well, I may be wrong on this; here’s a Boston Globe story based on this report.]. However, the nature of the misconduct in his research is captured well in a CHE report — Document Sheds Light on Investigation at Harvard — by Tom Bartlett.

    The Wikipedia entry on the man has a lot more details, and links.

    While collecting articles on the Marc Hauser case, I also found an editorial in The Crimson, Harvard’s student-run newspaper: Fire Marc Hauser.

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