Ethics in research question

SCHLOSSER at ciit.org SCHLOSSER at ciit.org
Wed Aug 18 03:44:42 EST 1993


> The Story of the Big Bad Research Group
>      - a hypyothetical tale -
(With all due respect to a certaint unfortunate, hard working,
*hypothetical* graduate student :-)

> The House of Straw -
> Big Bad Group:  Little Grad, Little Grad, let me in!
Translation: Let us see some results if you think we should collaborate.
> Little Grad:  Not by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin!
Translation: You can look at the data, but don't use it, it's my thesis.
> Big Bad Group: Then I'll huff, and I'l puff, and I'll blow your house down!
Translation:  This is such a good line of research, that we'll throw our
              much greater resources at it and scoop you.

> The House of Sticks -
> Big Bad Group:  Little Grad, Little Grad, let me in!
Translation: Now what are you up to?
> Little Grad:  Not by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin!
Translation: You stole my last idea.  You'll see what's next when it's in
             print.
> Big Bad Group: Then I'll huff, and I'l puff, and I'll blow your house down!
Translation:  Hey, we're supposed to be collaborators.  You wouldn't want me
              to speak to your advisor about this.  If you want to play in
              the big leagues, you've got to collaborate.  Besides, you can't
              prove anything anyway.  (The 2nd scoop occurs.)

> The House of Bricks -
> Big Bad Group:  Little Grad, Little Grad, let me in!
Translation: These have been such good ideas, that we want more.
> Little Grad:  Not by the hairs on my chinny-chin-chin!
Translation: No way!  And if you steal something else, we'll try a scientific
             misconduct inquiry.
> Big Bad Group: Then I'll huff, and I'l puff, and I'll blow your house down!
Translation:  Oh yeah, go ahead, and we'll see who's reputation is ruined.

> The rest is history.

>Moral - Build your house of bricks.
Translation:  To make scientific misconduct stick, and to prove that a 
line of research was really your own, you must keep excellent note-books,
properly dated w/ only indelible ink, etc., along with all data print-outs
(also with correct dates).  This is your house of bricks.  We all know
this, but it is a pain in the neck to do.  Maybe, though, this lesson
will help others to avoid similar unfortunate incidents (being eaten).
If you've got good records, and ideas were stolen more than once, 
especially if the thefts have damaged your career, ability to get a job, 
etc., then a misconduct inquiry may be your only recourse.  It is sad that 
this is the case, but there are 'wolves' out there and the only way to keep 
them out is to have a good fire burning when they try to come down the 
chimney.  Maybe after a few examples of wolves getting burned, these types
of abuses will be reduced, and we can all focus on just doing good science
(or on getting the funding for hard-working grad-students to do so, but on
a level playing field).

Paul Schlosser
CIIT
RTP, NC
schlosser at beta.ciit.org
(Opinions expressed here are my own, and not necessarily those of CIIT.)


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From: SCHLOSSER at ciit.org
Newsgroups: bionet.general
Subject: Re: Ethics in research question
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Date: 18 Aug 93 12:23:00 GMT
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