Research ethics: 3 ways to blow the whistle
Are more people doing wrong or are more people speaking up? Retractions of scientific papers have increased about tenfold during the past decade, with many studies crumbling in cases of high-profile research misconduct that ranges from plagiarism to image manipulation to outright data fabrication. When worries about somebody\’s work reach a critical point, it falls to a peer, supervisor, junior partner or uninvolved bystander to decide whether to keep mum or step up and blow the whistle. Doing the latter comes at significant risk, and the path is rarely simple. Some make their case and move on; others never give up. And in what seems to be a growing trend, anonymous watchdogs are airing their concerns through e-mail and public forums. Here, Nature profiles three markedly different stories of individuals who acted on their suspicions. Successful or otherwise, each case offers lessons for would-be tipsters.