clarifying their own procedures for handling allegations of misconduct in science.
In considering responses by research universities, government, and the courts to incidents of misconduct in science, the panel concludes that additional resources are required to strengthen the processes and procedures used for handling and resolving allegations of misconduct in science. This conclusion is derived from the following findings:
First, the panel believes that some research institutions have been slow to respond to and to pursue alleged cases of misconduct in science within their own communities. The panel concludes that an independent organization could be an effective resource to assist individual research institutions by sharing knowledge of “best practice” among the community.
Second, the research community has not been effective in responding to criticism about its record in handling allegations of misconduct in science. As a result, firsthand experiences in resolving problems of fairness, responsiveness, and accuracy in misconduct proceedings are often not systematically analyzed or disseminated to improve the resources and methods used by research institutions in handling allegations of misconduct in science.
The panel believes that a knowledgeable and credible voice is needed in the debate about the effectiveness of the scientific community in meeting the public interest. This perspective should not be tainted by the accusation that a voice is protecting the interest of a particular research institution or individual under scrutiny.
Third, the panel notes that several government agencies, notably the NSF and the PHS, have established offices for dealing with allegations of misconduct in science by their grantees. The panel is concerned about the scope of current government definitions of misconduct in science, the ability of government offices to handle allegations of misconduct in science effectively, and the possibility that the system established to handle misconduct in science could stray into matters that lie more appropriately in the domain of the scientific community (such as the detection of scientific error, the development of scientific methodologies, or the rejection or confirmation of new theories of scientific phenomena).
The panel concludes that the scientific community, Congress, federal authorities, and the public should have a single, independent body