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EthicsCaseStudyForm edit

Title Which Assay to Believe?
Long Title Which Assay to Believe?
Contributor/Contact John Banja, PhD (jbanja@emory.edu)
Contributor Details John Banja, PhD
Director, Section on Ethics in Research
Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Emory University
Atlanta, GA 30322
CTSA Emory
Case Study Provided My PI and I were working on an experiment to see if Y occurred when a particular gene was knocked out. If Y did indeed occur, we would be keen to publish the finding. Determining whether or not Y occurred would require our doing some assays.

The problem was that assay #1 confirmed Y, but assay #2 disconfirmed Y. It must be noted that these were not duplicate assays but completely different ones. And repeated assays of both types kept giving us the same contradictory findings.

So, the first issue was the temptation to simply tell my PI of the preferred result, namely the one that confirmed Y. I told myself this wouldn’t be a lie, but it came close. So, I told the PI about both assays. At this point we were confronted with the following decisions: Should we publish (and therefore believe) the results from the assay that worked and disregard the “bad” one, assuming that the problem involved some flaw in that assay? Or should we mention in the publication that we were only able to show Y with one assay, and not with another? Or should we try a third assay and go with it (as a tie-breaker)?

We went with the last strategy which fortunately confirmed Y and justified our paper. But suppose there wasn’t a third assay available? What then?
Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership Topics
Ethical values behind the scientific standards for data acquisition_management_sharing and ownership,
Variations in lab practices—legitimate and illegitimate variations,
Scientific methodology issues including research design_objectivity and bias,
Data reporting
Mentor and Trainee Responsibilities Topics No mentor and trainee responsibilities topics
Publication Practices and Responsible Authorship Topics No publication practices and responsible authorship topics
Peer Review Topics No peer review topics
Collaborative Science Topics No collaborative science topics
Research Misconduct Topics No research misconduct topics
Conflicts of Interest, Law and Policy Topics No conflicts of interest_law_and policy topics
Human Subjects No human subjects

URL http://www.actsi.org/areas/erks/ethics/index.html
RCR Keyword Research Paper
Other RCR Keywords Assays; Contradictory Findings; Experiment; Preferred Results; Selective Reporting
Type of Case

Source for Topic Areas Du Bois, J., & Dueker, J. (2009). Teaching and Assessing the Responsible Conduct of Research: A Delphi Consensus Panel Report. Journal of Research Administration, 40(1), 49-70.


Topic revision: r3 - 13 Nov 2011 - 12:33:09 - MarkYarborough
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