(Research Ethics) A graduate student intentionally omits some of his research data.
Elton, an engineer, is conducting graduate research at a major university. In order to complete his graduate studies and produce an advanced degree, Elton must develop a research report. As a part of the effort to develop his report, Elton compiles a vast amount of data relevant to his subject.
The vast majority of data obtained by Elton strongly support not only his report's conclusion, but also the conclusions of others. However, a small proportion of the data differs from the data consistent with Elton's conclusion. Convinced that his report is sound however, and concerned that the inclusion of the anomalous data would only detract from the essentials of the report, Elton does not include these figures in the report.
Was Elton guilty of falsification of research results in omitting the anomalous data? What type of additional information would be ethically relevant to this case?
-- adapted from NSPE Case No. 85-5
- Photograph by Lee Jennings
NSPE Code of Ethics An earlier version may have been used in this case.
Return to Professional Ethics in Engineering Practice: Discussion Cases Based on NSPE BER Cases
Scientific experiments and measurements are transformed into research data. The term “research data” applies to many different forms of scientific information, including raw numbers and field notes, machine tapes and notebooks, edited and categorized observations, interpretations and ...