I've been made aware of a situation that blatantly violates the honor code at my institution (also every institution). However it does not involve my lab, and the folks in the relevant lab are not keen to address it in any official capacity. What to do?
- A graduate student proved to be unfit for the lab he worked in. After one year he transferred to a totally different department/school/program at our university--one that is not research intensive.
- Upon leaving, my friend hounded him for the data he collected, which was part of a project she is lead on. He provided her with an excel spreadsheet. The Day 1 observations appear normal, but the subsequent days were simply a formula that changed Day 1's values by a constant and added some variance. To be clear, he actually left the formulas (which linked to the Day 1 observations) in the cells. So, clearly it's fraudulent data.
- My friend told her PI and is not using any data collected by this RA in any of her work.
- However, what is problematic, IMO, is that the PI and my friend have no intentions of addressing it further. I believe they are motivated by a desire to avoid the bureaucracy and the awkwardness that comes with making such an accusation. They have also pointed out that the program he is in now is totally different and does not involve real research (but still writing up reports about observed data, I would imagine).
- This student is still at our institution and I feel that the lack of ethical integrity he demonstrated should (must) be addressed!
- Am I being a self-righteous, cotton-headed ninny muggins?
- If not, what course of action should I take?
- NB: I am not in any way associated with that lab or PI... it's a different department too. I am a 2nd year PhD student.
Thank you for any insight.
- This was intentional fraud. The data are behavioral observations of mice, there should be original video files, and there are for Day 1 but the subsequent files are missing. When asked several times this week it was "oh yeah yeah I'll get those to you... it's just my login isn't working since I'm switching departments..." indicating that he did not actually collect the data. He did not reply "just kidding," "my bad," or "actually I did something stupid." (Sidebar: his inability to realize how obvious he is reminds me of teaching while students not-so-covertly text... I see you!)
- The specific formula was Day1Value*1.1+(RAND(-2,2))... so while he added variance it was a naive attempt at doing so... even if he hadn't left the formulas in there it would be as clear as day.