Welcome to the Rigorous Reproducible Responsible Research Integrity at UF (R4I@UF) website!  Please visit each month for a new case that may be used as a framework for a brief conversation about best research practices in your lab meeting, research conference, journal club, or any research meeting.

January 2024 Case of the Month: Crossing the Line into Misconduct

This month’s case scenario is one of a series that follows the story of Dr. Thompson’s laboratory, and explores the issues that arise from being in a small lab through the eyes of a new principal investigator (PI), a postdoctoral fellow, and a graduate student.   

Dr. Jeff Thompson is driven to secure his reputation as a successful researcher after recently leaving the lab of respected scientist. His relationship with his former PI has helped him immensely in the past, but he is eager to escape from under his shadow. 

thumbnail of AmitAmit is a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Thompson’s laboratory.  He completed his Ph.D. in India and came to the U.S. to bolster his professional reputation. He and his wife are expecting their first child soon. Dr. Thompson relies on him to mentor graduate students with which he has little experience. He goes to great lengths to seek approval from his PI.

Ashley is a graduate student seeking to join a lab.  Ultimately, she joins Dr. Thompson’s lab where she hopes to receive more individual attention.  During her training, she encounters difficulties and uncovers questionable research practices.

Please watch this brief video (3:44) to set up the research dilemma. After watching the video, consider these questions.

1. What is the difference between “beautifying” an image and purposefully changing it?
2. Is it possible to falsify an image through beautification practices?
3. Why do you think the postdoc chose to falsify his data? Are there external pressures that influenced his decision?
4. What would you do in his place?

This case study is from the Office of Research Integrity “Research Integrity: Case Study“. For more information about research misconduct, please see the Avoiding Research Misconduct resources web page.  For information about image manipulation, please see the NIH infographic “Can You Spot Research Misconduct? Investigating Image Manipulation”.

This website is a service of UF Research Integrity, Security & Compliance and the RCR on Campusworking group. We believe that research integrity is not achieved by simply taking an RCR course and “checking the box” that training is done. Our vision is to maintain a research culture in our everyday lives as UF researchers and research trainees in which we naturally follow best practices to ensure that the research we do is responsible, rigorous, and reproducible.

To submit a “Case of the Month” for the R4I@UF website, please contact Wayne T. McCormack, PhD (mccormac at ufl.edu).