How Scientists Can Save Their Careers After Accusations Of Scientific Misconduct

Published: Jan 05, 2017

“Who steals my purse steals trash,” Shakespeare wrote, but one who “filches [another’s] good name” takes “the immediate jewel of their souls.” The play is Othello, but he could just as well have been writing about science, where reputation is, in the words of the University of Washington’s (UW’s) policy on research misconduct, “of paramount importance to a researcher’s career.” So when UW dismissed longtime staff researcher Mercedes Perez-Melgosa after her lab chief, genome sciences professor Deborah “Debbie” Nickerson, concluded that Perez-Melgosa had “changed data,” as Nickerson would testify in a May 2015 court trial, Perez-Melgosa was devastated. It felt as if “my scientific career, my professional career—a very big part of my life had disappeared in front of me,” Perez-Melgosa testified in the same Seattle courtroom as part of a lawsuit she brought against UW related to her termination.

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