Ethics in research question

William S Currie wsc at kepler.unh.edu
Wed Aug 18 12:39:46 EST 1993


In article <1993Aug15.094539.26317 at mnemosyne.cs.du.edu> mhollowa at nyx.cs.du.edu (Michael Holloway) writes:
>I'd like to have a wide range of feedback on a question of ethics in 
>research and researcher collegiality.  Hypothetically, you 
>understand.

	I'm not in the same field of research, but I'd say that what the
hypothetical big lab did was highly unprofessional.  In my field,
people are usually careful to reference someone else's work as (Joe
Schmoe, unpublished data) in their papers if they don't actually publish
Joe Schmoe's data.  If they do, then Joe Schmoe is usually an author on
the paper.  In this hypothetical case, though, the situation
is more complicated because it was preliminary data . . . and one might
argue that once preliminary data ismade public, the ideas it represents
or suggests have been made public too.  It was very unprofessional of
the big lab to attempt to scoop the work . . . but I think researchers
are not above doing such things (though those with integrity are).  I
think the grad student has a leg to stand on here because a promise
of collaboration was made.  If the big lab refuses to let the grad student
be a co-author on their paper, the grad student can say, in a prominent 
place in his paper (like the introduction), "we have been collaborating
in this research with the such-and-such lab at the such-and-such
institution on work reported here and in (Honcho, in press)."  Still,
you've been wrongly scooped, but you can try to control the damage.
My personal view is that saying 'Well I learned an important lesson'
is not enough; you should try to right the wrong as much as possible
_this_ time, not wait 'till next time.  Politics being what they are,
though, you have to sit down in a dispassionate moment and weight the
costs of making potential enemies against the rewards of increased
credit for this work.



-- 
William S. Currie / Complex Systems / Institute For the Study of Earth,
~~ ~/\^/\__/\~~ Oceans and Space / University of New Hampshire ~~/\^/\~
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The population of Australia is born each year in China.
 



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