Summary: It took me 3 years to analyze data from one sample (n=1) whereas correct way to perform experiment would be with n>=3. Now my job and funding are in question, since I don't have more time. My supervisor pressures me to fabricate data.
I want to gather all the missing data but that will take another 3 years for same experiment; resulting in failure to timely submit internal evaluation reports, as well as termination of any fellowship. My supervisors are secretly suggesting me to somehow put some imaginary values in at this point, but that feels heartbreaking. So what is the best thing I can do now?
I am a Ph.D. candidate in soil sciences at a small academic university, where I have to do assays about different soil borne microbes such as an antibiotic assay, secondary metabolite, synergy etc. Now before starting my research, I was told to just ask the lab seniors and carry out the experiments. However, I did not have a simple and crisp understanding of biostatistics, and I was not told about what kind of statistics is applicable for my samples. I was tedious about the preparation of chemical reagents and buffers and I kept digging for historically important original papers that lack enough statistical analyses.But I missed that in the future, I will be required to submit statistical analyses that are up to the mark of current trends. I just kept doing simple experiments as shown in previous degree courses, without statistical repeats.
Honestly at this point, I am totally depressed. People all around me are pressuring me that if I do not fill up my dataset with imaginary data, my paper will not be accepted to any journal.
So what should I do in this scenario? I am extremely, severely depressed and go to therapy.
Update to answer questions asked in the comments:
Locale: Some Asian country.
Journals we choose: Very low impact, paid, costly. They prefer jargon rich language instead of too original language that describes how we reach to conclusion. If I write about a too detailed explanation, it would be double checked by my seniors, and at 'safest', they would be backspaced.
Impact of reporting? From word of mouth, perhaps many other people at respectable positions here do (and did at past) this quite casually, and rivalry among them is intense. Except this incident, my supervisors were humanitarian towards me and many other people. Now at this point if I am selected by a rival employer (although that isn't going to happen without the explicit consent of present supervisors), there is no way the rival employers are going to trust a traitor.
People are bloodthirsty for job and career (than actually learning), and they are immoral up to the point of stealing my personal stuff, hiding equipment, tearing journal pages to wrap glasswares, mouth pipetting broths risking own life. Period. Nobody is going to witness me. Nobody is going to get my back. Everybody will disagree with me.
I am under such a point where a PhD dropout seems more respectable than a finished PhD.
Update: Based on few more comments and answers:
Yes I have considered of personal safety - I took a wait and watch strategy for a while.
No, we don't have a statistics office. We have a stat department though, collaborating them might require consent from our department. I will consider this option. Calling the quality checking office is going to instantly identify me, and retaliation.
In several other university departments where I studied at past, I have collected a lot of conflicts, again, without written evidence. It is not possible to keep the mobile recorder 24 hour on. Whatever, they are not going to issue me any recommendation letters. For sure.
it is unlikely that I will zoom call or network. I have a very little motivation left. I want to choose some rather low paying career such as providing private tuition to children or to teach drawing or guitar or crafting, or to start a career as an animator. This will provide me more creativity and content. I would not require constantly evaluate the moods and intents of others. In future if a new system appears where people spontaneously contribute to research, maybe I will consider that in old age. I am happy with little, and that is enough for me.
I would suggest the scientific community to develop some other technique to prevent or detect this type of situations. Make it mandatory to submit all photographic/ videographic evidence for each and every claim. Make it mandatory to submit each mathematical details, procedures to making mixtures, etc. Also publishing behavior can say a lot. Especially a prolific amount of publication may be a red flag for predatory behaviour.
System needs a lot other change. Do not mandate Ph. D. for jobs where Ph. D. level skills is not necessary. Also make an outlet for partly incomplete informations to be published, with intellectual properties associated to the students; and unlike peer review by a few referees, let it be reviewed by entire world. let them make comments and collaborations.
I talked to superviser and made it absolutely clear that under no circumstane I will execute that suggestion. They agrees to it, sort of. They tells me to focus on "actual work" of pouring and mixing all those, than neatpicking too much with all those theoretical stuff.
I am seeing this type of misconduct as more of a systemic fault than individual fault, because lot of people talk about 'putting some values' quite casually and are achievement-thirsty. I maintain a distance with this kind of people because every time they makes me feel ghosted, ignored, ashamed of not completing the curricula 'as intended', or blameshifts when I try to do anything new.
Looks like the Ph.D. memes on social media indeed reflects a lot of unreported truth. Recently I have found a meme regarding n=1 back from 2019 that also indicates somebody else also made a similar blunder.
I have also heard, some of our very reputable professors said the ethics curriculum is very "boring"... that reflects they don't know to teach it an insightful way.
I met a very senior scholar (who is now in no means doing research or academic job though) said me once that there is credit in filling up with data because it takes "knowing the work better than others" so that "only naive people are caught".
Small update regarding demographics: Our former state education minister, currently one of the supreme power, just caught by detectives for laundering money worth approx 300000 USD (at least) while investigating a huge school teacher recruitment petitions and protests. A similar university like us, known to award him a fake Ph. D. degree as well other professors are hiding their opinion about this education minister's Ph. D. guide, and the responsibility is being pushed solely towards his guide. But we all know the rapport and networking among all those professors. This is the level of corruption in the authority to whom we are expected to "report" something.