O modus operandi da Nomenklatura científica: ou dá ou desce!!!

quinta-feira, junho 09, 2011

Published online 8 June 2011 | Nature 474, 140-141 (2011) | doi:10.1038/474140a


Whistle-blower claims his accusations cost him his job

University denies it retaliated against researcher who questioned supervisor's data.

Eugenie Samuel Reich

After months of friction that culminated in his openly questioning the reproducibility of data published by his supervisor, a postdoc at the University of Wisconsin–Madison's zoology department was presented with three options. The department's chairman said he could wait to be fired, resign voluntarily or accept a "gracious exit strategy" that would give him time to prepare a paper for publication, if he dropped his "scientific misconduct issues".

When geneticist Aaron Taylor objected that the third option sounded like a "plea bargain" meant to discourage him from pressing his concerns about the lab's data, the chairman, Jeffrey Hardin disagreed. But Hardin also said: "I think you'd have to decide which is more important to you." He later added: "You have to decide whether you want to kind of engage in whistle-blowing."

Taylor recorded the November 2009 exchange without Hardin's knowledge — something permitted under Wisconsin law. Although Taylor declined to make a decision in the meeting, he resigned a few days later, minutes before a disciplinary meeting at which he would have been fired. He says he lost his job because he voiced doubts about data published by the lab of Yevgenya Grinblat, the faculty member who employed him. Grinblat, whose scientific conduct has been upheld by the university and who is not under investigation, says that Taylor lost his job because of a "disrespectful attitude".

The story illustrates a problem that can arise when a junior researcher comes into conflict with a senior colleague over research integrity. Whistle-blowers are supposed to be protected from retaliation, even if they are wrong, as long as they are acting in good faith. Yet, when personality clashes enter the mix — a likely scenario when accusations begin to fly — the outcome can be much less clear cut.

Zebrafish embryos are at the centre of a dispute over research integrity. 

In Taylor's case, Hardin strongly denies any retaliation, and says that a move was made to terminate Taylor's contract for "serious personnel issues". E-mails provided by Grinblat show that she had mentioned and sought advice about what she said was Taylor's negative attitude to colleagues inside and outside the university before he questioned her data. Even so, an e-mail from Hardin to Eric Wilcots, an associate dean for mathematical and natural sciences at the university, seems to imply that Taylor's accusations played a part in his departure. The e-mail said that Taylor had engaged in "seemingly inappropriate correspondence" — referring to a caustic e-mail to Grinblat in which Taylor alleged that she acted improperly as a researcher and a lab supervisor.

C. K. Gunsalus, a lawyer and expert on research misconduct at the University of Illinois in Urbana–Champaign, who read documents provided by the university at Nature 's request, says: "On the face of it, the university's actions at least raise a question as to whether there was retaliation for speaking out."

Read more here/Leia mais aqui: Nature