It's well-known that unethical acts can render research virtually unpublishable, but the cases we hear about tend to involve situations in which the methodology is tainted - for example, fabrication of data or unethical experimentation on humans.
Do unethical or unlawful acts that are tangential to actual research methodology likewise taint research?
- A researcher is unlawfully present in the country in which they do the research, or lacks the legal status to do it there (e.g. overstaying visas, attending a university on a tourist visa, dodging a border checkpoint, etc.).
- A researcher falsifies their academic credentials in order to get access to lab space, equipment, or grant money (e.g. the research itself is sound, but the researcher would not have been allowed unsupervised access to the university's microscopes had they known that he didn't actually have a PhD).
- A researcher conducts research using stolen equipment or supplies.
- A researcher commits a crime in order to hinder, delay, or incapacitate a rival researcher (e.g. sabotaging someone else's lab, murdering them, stealing their lab notes in order to deny them access to them, fabricating allegations to get them thrown in jail, deported from a country, expelled or fired from a university, etc.).
- A researcher unlawfully uses performance-enhancing drugs without a prescription to maintain concentration on their work.
- A researcher carries an unlawful weapon (e.g. concealed handgun without a permit, rifle unlawfully modified for full auto, etc.) for personal protection when gathering field data (e.g. where the researcher would have otherwise not gone there out of fear of violence).
Are there best practices or general principles on when such unethical acts taint research? Obviously, I'm not asking whether or not someone can, or should, get away with committing these acts, only whether or not they also would prevent publication. E.g. could someone say, "Yes, I blew up Dr. Smith's telescope and hit him with an axe so he couldn't beat me to publication, and I accept my 20-year prison sentence for that, but I was, in fact, the first to complete a spectrographic analysis of that planet and write it up so I should still be allowed to publish."?
This is not a request for personal advice! I'm just curious as to what actually happens or is supposed to happen in these cases.
My "guts" say that this would depend on the degree of non-academic misconduct - for example, that murdering a rival would prevent publication while parking unlawfully in a no-parking zone in order to make it to a meeting on time would not, but is this actually the case? Is every case evaluated independently, or is there a bright-line rule?