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January 25, 2007


To the editor:

I am writing you in order to make a remark about the article “Ex-Schatten post doc sanctioned by HHS” in the Jan. 11 University Times.

Firstly, I was very disappointed (and surprised) to learn that scientists can be involved in such scientific crimes like data falsification or data misrepresentation.

This was also an issue in a workshop I participated in last Saturday. We saw cases of misbehavior and we also made a case study about the ethics of plagiarism and publishing similar papers.

The point I want to make is in both the article and in the workshop, people mainly focused on whom and how the act was performed and possible effects/punishments. I think we should consider more the causes of the scientific crimes.

The article in the University Times mainly explains how the research misbehavior was performed. At the end it said that perceived or self-imposed pressure to publish the paper may have been a factor in the action.

Indeed these people cannot have any excuse for such an act. However, we should make a critique of the working conditions of the academicians. Do they get involved in scientific crimes because:

1) They feel they need to fulfill some requirements (such as a certain number of papers per year)?

2) Or do they need to guarantee their position by publishing papers (because they may lose their position before getting tenure and there are a number of candidates waiting for the same position)?

3) Or they do not want to lose the funding for the research, or are there other causes?

These all are subjects to question. Moreover, another dimension of the discussion is are there other possible papers based on scientific misconduct? (I think and hope this is not the case.) How reliable is the scientific work and data?

I think we should not limit ourselves to individual cases. We should also discuss the system (like the education system in which academicians are brought up) and suggest cautions to improve the academic environment.

Yusuf Izmirlioglu

PhD Candidate

Department of Economics


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