Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Research Ethics Talk

And now for something completely different.

*Date and location*: Mon, March 7, 4-6pm, Girvetz 1004

*Speaker*: Prof. Herbert Kroemer

*Abstract*: In early 2002, Bell Labs physicist Hendrick Schoen was considered a rising star in the field of molecular electronics. A little older than 30, Schoen had already authored 90 publications and received a series of prestigious awards. In April 2002, he was being considered for the directorship of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart. In September 2002, he was fired by the Bell Labs and his most prominent papers were withdrawn from publication. What happened? In this talk, Prof. Kroemer will tell us about his role in the investigation on scientific misconduct and discuss issues and repercussions of unethical conduct in research.

To whet your appetite for this talk check out The Rise and Fall of a Physics Fraudster in Physics World. Although this example is from the world of physics the implications for scientific research are very general.

I used to joke with my friends in the physics community that if you want to cleanse your discipline of the worst scientists in it, every three or four years, you should have someone publish a bogus paper claiming to make some remarkable new discovery — infinite free energy or ESP, or something suitably cosmic like that. Then you have it published in a legitimate journal ; it shows up on the front page of the New York Times, and within two months, every bad scientist in the field will be working on it.  Gary Taubes.

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