Oct 212010
 
 October 21, 2010  Misc

Margaret Munro reports:

A blue-ribbon panel says Canadian academics found to have faked data, plagiarized and engaged
in serious misconduct should be named publicly. In a report to be released Thursday, the panel said action is needed to fill serious gaps in how Canada deals with misconduct involving research and studies paid for by taxpayers.

It calls for creation of a Canadian Council for Research Integrity to foster more honesty and accountability and said the research community needs to be more open and transparent about bad behaviour that does occur.

The report deals with the privacy and reputation concerns:

Although the panel recognizes the importance of maintaining the privacy of individuals during an investigation, investigative findings should be reported and made public if an individual or institution is found guilty of research misconduct,” reports the panel, made up of 14 academics and researchers brought together by the Council of Canadian Academies, a non-profit corporation that assesses public policy issues.

“Similarly, the fact that an allegation is under investigation should be reported if an individual who is subject to an allegation resigns (either by mutual or unilateral decision) before the end of the investigation,” the panel says. “Even if an individual resigns, any investigation initiated prior to the resignation should be completed and the findings reported.”

Read more in the Edmonton Journal.

I agree that those found guilty of research misconduct should be named publicly. If doctors are to rely on research, then it’s important for us to know when research is untrustworthy and also when we might want to rethink any other studies published by a particular investigator.

Here in the U.S., many states have publicly available web sites where you can find out if a particular professional has ever had disciplinary action taken against them in their licensed or registered capacity as a provider.  Those lists might not include research misconduct, though, because the state board in charge of professional misconduct may not be the board conducting the investigation on research misconduct.

A recent article in The Atlantic by David H. Freedman  highlights the growing problem with untrustworthiness in published research and journals.   If you think this doesn’t apply to you, think again, as the medications you are prescribed or the treatment options you have depend, in part, on what’s in the journals and what doctors are being told in what are often BigPharma-funded talks.

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