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EthicsCaseStudyForm edit

Title Research Misconduct at the High School Level
Long Title Research Misconduct at the High School Level
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 I did my undergraduate work in a biological research lab that was proud to host numerous high school students throughout the year. Each student would learn basic microbiological techniques by isolating and characterizing novel viruses from the environment. Many would use this experience for a high school graduation project.

One time during the spring semester, the coordinator of this program received an e-mail from a local high school student who stated he was working with us for his senior high school science project. He inquired in the e-mail if he could ask the coordinator some questions about the program. The coordinator responded affirmatively, so the student followed up with a list of questions. Upon reading the questions, however, the coordinator was struck by the fact that they were not the type of questions that a student who participated in the program would ask, e.g., “What does your program do?” “What building is your program located in?”

So, the coordinator became suspicious as to whether the student actually set foot in the lab to do the work he claimed he was doing. So we investigated. We searched for notebooks with his name on it, his name in the time logs, and his initials on community reagents. We went back through old e-mails to see if he had been assigned a mentor to work with us. Our efforts turned up nothing. There was absolutely no evidence that this student had performed the work he claimed to have done.

After a brief discussion on whether we should notify the student’s teacher, we did. In fact, we contacted both the teacher and the principal. We explained that we had no evidence that this student had ever worked with us, and if he claimed to have done so for a high school project, he was lying. As it turned out, the student had indeed claimed to have worked with our lab, and he fabricated the data on his project as well. The high school required him to redo the project, which meant he couldn’t graduate that spring.

It seems to me our decision to contact the high school was entirely proper. Do you agree?
Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership Topics No Data acquisition_management_sharing and ownership Topics
Mentor and Trainee Responsibilities Topics
Scientific responsibilities of the mentor,
Nonscientific responsibilities of roles of the mentor
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
Significance of misconduct,
Responding to observed misconduct
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 Misconduct, Mentoring, Students
Other RCR Keywords Basic Microbiological Techniques; Biological Research Lab; Email; Fabricated Data; Graduation Project; High School Students; Questions about Program; Student; Student Claimed Part of Program; Undergraduate Work
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: r1 - 28 Oct 2011 - 19:05:48 - DebieSchilling
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