yet been described in a published paper, so the provisions for sharing it are different. Ed needs to consider the other laboratory's legitimate interest in developing that material and establishing how it works before publication. He also needs to consider the relationship between the two laboratories. If he turns to his faculty advisor for help in acquiring the reagent, how is his advisor likely to respond? Is there any way he can work with the other laboratory and thereby come a step closer to forming an agreement with them about the use of the reagent?
Ben is to be commended for being open and for seeking to involve others in his work. He will benefit from that openness, even if he seems not to have benefited in this situation. At the same time, Ben has to ask himself honestly if his comments were a critical factor in Dr. Freeman's work. If Dr. Freeman had already had the same ideas, he should have told Ben this during their conversation. But could the same ideas have come from elsewhere?
If Ben is still convinced that he has not been treated fairly, he will need to work with his research advisor to see if his contributions can be acknowledged. One option would be to see if his advisor would cosign a letter with Ben or write a letter on Ben's behalf addressing this issue. Ben will need to think about the possible implications of this course of action for his own career. What if Dr. Freeman writes back and says that the lack of credit was an oversight and that he will credit Ben in the future? What if he says that Ben's objections are not warranted and gives the reasons why?
Contributions to a scientific field are not counted in terms of the number of papers. They are counted in terms of significant differences in how science is understood. With that in mind, Paula and her students need to consider how they are most likely to make a significant contribution to their field. One determinant of impact is the coherence and completeness of a paper. Paula and her students may need to begin writing before they can tell whether one or more papers is needed.
In retrospect, Paula and her students might also ask themselves about the process that led to their decision. Should they have discussed publications much earlier in the process? Were the students led to believe that they would be first authors on published papers? If so, should that influence future work in the lab?
Even though Don did not introduce spurious results into science, he fabricated the submission of the research paper and therefore engaged in misconduct. Though his treatment by the department might seem harsh, fabrication strikes so directly at the foundations of science that it is not excusable.
This scenario also demonstrates that researchers and administrators in an institution may differ on the appropriate course of action to take when research ethics are