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Accountability in Research
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To Tell or Not to Tell? The Ethical Dilemma of the Would-Be Whistleblower Janet Malek Ph.D.
Department of Medical Humanities, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA Available online: 11 May 2010
To cite this article: Janet Malek Ph.D. (2010): To Tell or Not to Tell? The Ethical Dilemma of the Would-Be Whistleblower, Accountability in Research, 17:3, 115-129 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08989621003791929
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Accountability in Research, 17:115–129, 2010 Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0898-9621 print / 1545-5815 online DOI: 10.1080/08989621003791929
To Tell or Not to Tell? The Ethical Dilemma of the Would-Be Whistleblower Accountability in Research Vol. 17, No. 3, Mar 2010: pp. 0–0 1545-5815 0898-9621 GACR Research, J. Malek The Ethical Dilemma of the Would-Be Whistleblower
Janet Malek, Ph.D.
Downloaded by [ ] at 06:11 03 November 2011
Department of Medical Humanities, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA Despite the growing emphasis placed on the responsible conduct of research, little attention has been devoted to the question of what an individual should do upon discovering research misconduct. This article takes seriously the dilemma of a would-be whistleblower. It identifies ethical considerations that can be taken into account in moral decision-making about reporting research misconduct. It also offers rough guidelines about the moral significance of each consideration in the decision-making process based on the facts of the case in question. The article, therefore, offers tools for a would-be whistleblower to use to arrive at a defensible resolution to a difficult dilemma. Keywords: ethical decision-making, misconduct, reporting, whistleblowing
Recent years have seen a growing emphasis placed on the responsible conduct of scientific research. This emphasis has led to the development of numerous guidelines concerning authorship practices, data management, intellectual property, collaboration among researchers, and more. Significantly less attention, however, has been devoted to the question of what an individual should do upon discovering that another researcher is acting in proscribed ways. One might be tempted to take as obvious a claim like the following: If an individual justifiably believes that research misconduct is occurring or has occurred, that individual shall report the misconduct to an appropriate third party in an appropriate way.
Before proceeding, a few clarifications are in order. By specifying that an individual’s belief must be justifiable, this claim only refers to cases in which
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