Miscounduct and Grantsmanship

Alexander Berezin berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Sat Dec 16 22:15:24 EST 1995


Comments after the message - Alex Berezin

On 17 Dec 1995, Bert Gold wrote:

> 
> FINDINGS OF SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT
> 
> NIH GUIDE, Volume 24, Number 42, December 8, 1995
> 
> P.T. 34; K.W. 1014004, 1014006
> 
> Department of Health and Human Services
> 
> Notice is hereby given that the Office of Research Integrity (ORI)
> has made final findings of scientific misconduct in the following
> case:
> 
> Daniel P. Bednarik, Ph.D., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
> (CDC):  Based on an investigation conducted by the Division of
> Research Investigations, ORI found that Daniel P. Bednarik, Ph.D.,
> engaged in scientific misconduct by fabricating and falsifying
> research data in two scientific manuscripts that were submitted for
> publication to the journal Nucleic Acids Research and to the journal
> AIDS.  One paper, entitled "Expression of the human (cytosine-5)
> :methyltransferase is regulated by alternative mRNA splicing," was not
> accepted and the other, entitled "Indirect evidence for an EBV-HIV
> hybrid virus:  Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and Epstein-Barr
> virus genome association," was withdrawn before review.  Dr. Bednarik
> is a former employee of CDC, and the research was done while he was
> employed by CDC.
> 
> Dr. Bednarik and ORI have entered into a Voluntary Exclusion
> Agreement, which the parties agreed shall not be construed as an
> admission of liability or wrongdoing on the part of Dr. Bednarik.
> Dr. Bednarik has agreed not to appeal ORI's jurisdiction or its
> findings and has further has voluntarily agreed:
> 
> (1) to exclude himself from any contracting or subcontracting with
> any agency of the United States Government and from eligibility for,
> or involvement in, nonprocurement transactions (e.g., grants and
> cooperative agreements) of the United States Government, as defined
> in 45 C.F.R. Part 76 and 48 C.F.R. Subparts 9.4 and 309.4 (Debarment
> Regulations) for a period of two years, beginning on October 30,
> 1995;
> 
> (2) that any institution employing the Respondent be required to
> :submit, in conjunction with each application for PHS funds or report
> of PHS funded research in which the Respondent is involved, a
> certification that the data provided by the Respondent are based on
> actual experiments or are otherwise legitimately derived and that the
> data, procedures, and methodology are accurately reported in the
> application or report for a period of one (1) year following his
> exclusion;
> 
> (3) that any institution that submits an application for PHS support
> for a research project that proposes the Respondent's participation
> or that uses the Respondent in any capacity on PHS supported
> research, must concurrently submit a plan for supervision of the
> Respondent's duties, designed to ensure the scientific integrity of
> Dr. Bednarik's research, for a period of one year following his
> exclusion; and
> 
> (4) to exclude himself from serving in any advisory capacity to the
> Public Health Service (PHS), including but not limited to service on
> any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer review committee, or
> as a consultant for a period of three years, beginning on October 30,
> 1995.
> 
> :Tetsuya Matsuguchi, M.D., Ph.D., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute: On
> November 3, 1995, ORI found that Tetsuya Matsuguchi, M.D., Ph.D.,
> formerly a Harvard Medical School Research Fellow at the Dana-Farber
> Cancer Institute, committed scientific misconduct by intentionally
> falsifying data by artificially darkening one band each on two
> autoradiographs in figures that he had prepared for a presentation at
> an intramural research seminar and by altering three bands on the
> print of an immunoblot included in Figure 2A of a paper published in
> the EMBO Journal.  This research was supported by a Public Health
> Service grant.
> 
> Dr. Matsuguchi has entered into a Voluntary Exclusion Agreement with
> ORI in which he has accepted ORI's finding and has agreed to exclude
> himself voluntarily, for the three year period beginning November 3,
> 1995:
> 
> (1) from any contracting or subcontracting with any agency of the
> United States Government and from eligibility for, or involvement in,
> Federal nonprocurement transactions (e.g., grants and cooperative
> agreements), of the United States Government, as defined in 45 C.F.R.
> Part 76 and 48 C.F.R. Subparts 9.4 and 309.4 (Debarment Regulations);
> and
> :
> (2) from serving in any advisory capacity to PHS, including but not
> limited to service on any PHS advisory committee, board, and/or peer
> review committee, or as a consultant.
> 
> The above voluntary exclusion, however, shall not apply to Dr.
> Matsuguchi's future training or practice of clinical medicine whether
> as a medical student, resident, fellow, or licensed practitioner
> unless that practice involves research or research training.
> 
> Dr. Matsuguchi has agreed to submit a letter to the EMBO Journal
> requesting correction of the article entitled "Tyrosine
> phosphorylation of p85Vav in myeloid cells is regulated by GM-CSF,
> IL-3, and Steel factor and is constitutively increased by p210
> BCR/ABL" (EMBO Journal 14:257-265, 1995) by retracting Figure 2A,
> because Dr. Matsuguchi enhanced the Vav bands in lanes 2, 3, and 4
> without the knowledge of the other authors, and by substituting the
> correct Figure 2A.
> 
> INQUIRIES
> 
> For further information contact:
> :
> Director, Division of Research Investigations
> Office of Research Integrity
> 5515 Security Lane, Suite 700
> Rockville, MD  20852
> Telephone:  (301) 443-5330
> 

Reading the above I feel sorry if not almost sympathetic 
for Drs. Bendarik and Matsuguchi - two unlucky fellows 
who got caught (somehow) on something thousands others
are getting away with.

Optimists keep saying that cases of data fabrication
are rare - because the _actual_ legal cases of misconduct are 
relatively isolated. But so is shoplifting. Cases of it are 
relatively rare, but recent sociological study quotes that 
about 10 % (one out of 10 !) of all population regularly shoplift 
(and the figure not much depend on the economical, social or 
educational category - PhDs and "rich" shoplift as often as all 
the rest).

My hypothesis that in science (especially, in highly 
"competitive" areas), "shoplifting" is a lot higher than 10 %,
perhaps even 50 % is a conservative estimate, but we don't
see it en-masse because almost all of it goes undetected.

The very system of throat-cutting "competiton" for grants
(grantsmanship), secretive and unaccountable (i.e.
irresponsible) "anonymous peer review" of "proposals" and 
bureaucratic structuring of granstmanship machinery - all 
these contribute to the de-facto encourging of fabrication, 
falsification, and tampering of data, unattributed theft of 
the ideas and other forms of research misconduct.

Decent, honest and self-critical work is discouraged - you
are bound to fell behind (or very likely, will be 
pushed away from science altogther) if you follow what used 
to be known as "ethical behaviour in science".    

Even Nobel Prize laureates (several !) have recently
been hinted as been involved in (putting it mildely)
"not quite classy" research practices.

So, we should not be too harsh on Drs. Bendarik and
Matsuguchi - who are the first to cast stone ? 

**********************************
Alexander A. Berezin, PhD
Department of Engineering Physics
McMaster University, Hamilton,
Ontario, Canada, L8S 4L7
tel. (905) 525-9140 ext. 24546
e-mail: BEREZIN at MCMASTER.CA
**********************************





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