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Ethical pressures on postdocs?

PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2006 4:21 pm
by Beryl
Dear postdocs:

As you may know, I write postdoc articles for Science's Next Wave, and once again I'm hoping that postdocs will share their insights, observations and experiences with me so that I can explore an important issue. As always, identities will be held in strict confidence for those wishing anonymity.

As the Korean stem cell case moves into the criminal phase, a bright light is shining on the role of early-career scientists, who played crucial roles in this scandal from the very beginning, both in perpetrating the fraud and other violations and in uncovering and publicizing them. The case raises Important questions about possible pressures that young scientists may face in today's highly competitive world of scientific research to produce "good" results and/or to ignore or keep mum about practices by others that they may consider questionable.

I'd like to know about the ethical atmosphere in your lab. Does your supervisor maintain explicit ethical standards about results? And if so, how are those standards expressed? Or, conversely, have you ever felt or seen others feel pressure to have results or data meet certain definitions of "success," even if it meant using means that shave the rules? What form did this pressure take? Who applied the pressure? How was it expressed? What did you or others do about it? What do you think should be done about it?

Have you ever seen any practices by that you consider questionable in this regard? What form did these practices take? What did you or others do about it? What happened as a result? What do you think should be done in such cases?

If you have any observations or experiences they'd like to share, please let write to me in confidence at Again, be assured that identities will be safeguarded.

Thanks again for your help.

Best wishes,
Beryl Benderly