Count the Cost – Whistleblowers
When should you speak out? When:
- Criminal action is involved;
- Research misconduct has occurred;
- Physical injury or loss of life could result; and/or
- Facilities, equipment or materials and resources are at risk
If you wish to report an allegation, you should report the incident in writing and provide as much information as possible including the nature of the alleged misconduct, the name of the individual(s) involved and their role(s) in the incident, the date and location of the incident, and a detailed description of the incident. Any written documentation supporting your concerns should be cited and provided as well. Depending on the severity of the situation, your college and/or university may act quickly to form a committee to investigate the alleged misconduct. Since serious allegations are not encountered routinely in academe, it is difficult to describe here the specifics of the investigation process but you should expect it to be protracted and likely contentious by virtue of the seriousness of the allegations involved. The Office of Research Integrity has published model procedures that should be used when allegations of research misconduct are made in laboratories receiving federal support.
Documented examples of genuine research misconduct are rare. The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Research Integrity (NIH ORI) publishes on ORI’s website summaries of recent closed cases that concluded that misconduct had occurred or that resulted in administrative action but did not conclude that misconduct had occurred.