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EthicsCaseStudyForm edit

Title A Letter of "Non-Recommendation"
Long Title A Letter of "Non-Recommendation"
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 Professor Merlin has never gotten along well with his postdoc, Dr. Lancelot. The reasons seem elusive. Lancelot was a very independent researcher from the start, who never seemed to want Merlin’s mentoring or advice. Merlin, on the other hand, was not a particularly warm or congenial fellow and only helped his postdocs if they asked him. Nevertheless, Lancelot was no slouch, having published 2, first-author papers (with another two in the hopper) while working in Merlin’s lab. Unfortunately, their relationship has become even more distant over the last 4 months, as Lancelot is finishing his postdoc and is applying for academic positions at other research institutions. Lancelot has decided not to ask Merlin for a letter of recommendation because he feels certain that Merlin’s letter would be less than glowing.

Merlin learns about one of Lancelot’s job applications and knows the individual who is supervising the search. Merlin is upset that Lancelot neither informed him of his application nor asked for a letter of recommendation. He sends the search supervisor an unsolicited email in which he (Merlin) offers a rather negative opinion of Lancelot.

The search supervisor knows both Merlin and Lancelot personally and has come to admire Lancelot’s work. He contacts Lancelot and, while not sharing the details of Merlin’s email, tells him about Merlin’s unsolicited “nonrecommendation.” Lancelot is stupefied and enraged by this revelation and considers legal action against Merlin.

Does Merlin have a right to offer his opinion in the manner he did? Was he prudent in doing so? What should Lancelot be advised on proceeding?
Data Acquisition, Management, Sharing and Ownership Topics No Data acquisition_management_sharing and ownership Topics
Mentor and Trainee Responsibilities Topics
Power relationships and the potential problems they involve,
Scientific responsibilities of the mentor,
Responsibilities of trainees within the mentor–trainee relationship,
How to get the most out of the mentor–trainee relationship,
Addressing challenges and problems in the mentor–trainee relationship
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 Mentoring, Post-doc
Other RCR Keywords Academic Positions; Independent Researcher; Job Applications; Legal Action; Negative Opinion; Nonrecommendation; Post-doc; Professor; Published; Research Institutions; Search Supervisor; Unsolicited Email
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 - 31 Oct 2011 - 18:12:10 - DebieSchilling
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