128 Engineering Ethics: An Industrial Perspective
contingent upon U.S. employment. The committee also cleared all co-authors
of any scientific misconduct. However, they questioned the professional
responsibility of Schon’s supervisor, Bertram Batlogg, in not validating
Schon’s results before publication (Lucent, 2002).
AFTERMATH
After the committee released its findings, many began to question why
Schon’s work had not received further internal scrutiny before publica-
tion. According to Bell Labs spokesman Saswato Das, “In our view, this
was an isolated, anomalous incident. But John Rowell, former director
of chemical physics at Bell Labs who worked there from 1961 to 1983,
disagreed. Stated Rowell, “This is certainly not the way things used to be
at Bell Labs. In the good old days, experiments would be immediately
witnessed by one or sometimes even two levels of management, and by
collaborators.... There was a rigorous publication release process that
involved circulation of papers to management and other researchers”
(Lerner, 2002).
The peer-review process was also questioned. But according to Monica
Bradford, managing editor of Science, After the story broke, we looked
back over the reviewer reports, but we did not find any clues that some-
thing was wrong. Said Karl Ziemelis, physical sciences editor at Nature,
“Clearly, reviewers were less critical of the papers than they should have
been, in part because the papers came from Batlogg, who had an excellent
track record, and from Bell Labs, which has always done good work. . . .
In addition, although the results were spectacular they were in keeping
with the expectations of the community. If they had not been, or had they
come from a completely unknown research group, they might have gotten
closer scrutiny” (Lerner, 2002). As part of its manuscript submission
process, Science now asks that if a paper is accepted for publication, then
“any reasonable request for materials, methods, or data necessary to
verify the conclusions of the experiments reported must be honored” and
that large data sets be deposited in an approved database or housed as
supporting online material at Science (AAAS, 2004).
APPLICABLE REGULATIONS
The Bell Labs investigation committee used the U.S. Federal Policy
on Research Misconduct (OSTP, 2003) as its guiding set of principles,
definitions, and recommended practices in conducting its investigation.
Ch10-P088531.qxd 2/22/06 11:47 AM Page 128
2002: Bell Laboratories Scientific Fraud 129
Although the research in question was not federally funded (and thus
this policy did not affect Bell Labs), this policy represents a consensus
view of the U.S. scientific community on the issue of scientific misconduct
(Lucent, 2002).
This policy contains six parts: research conduct definitions, findings
of research misconduct, responsibilities of federal agencies and research
institutions, guidelines for fair and timely procedures, agency administra-
tive actions, and roles of other organizations. According to Parts I and II,
research misconduct and findings of research misconduct are defined as
the following:
I. Research Misconduct Defined
Research misconduct is defined as fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in
proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.
Fabrication is making up data or results and recording or reporting
them.
Falsification is manipulating research materials, equipment, or
processes, or changing or omitting data or results such that the
research is not accurately represented in the research record.
Plagiarism is the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes,
results, or words without giving appropriate credit.
Research misconduct does not include honest error or differences of
opinion. (OSTP, 2003)
II. Findings of Research Misconduct
A finding of research misconduct requires that:
There be a significant departure from accepted practices of the
relevant research community; and
The misconduct be committed intentionally, or knowingly, or
recklessly; and
The allegation be proven by a preponderance of evidence (OSTP,
2003). Per this policy, it is the responsibility of the home research
institution to conduct an investigation into allegations of scientific
misconduct. If misconduct is found, then the federal agency that funded
this research shall determine the seriousness of the misconduct and the
appropriate administrative actions.An administrative action may range
from a letter of reprimand to a suspension or termination of an active
funding award. If the funding agency believes criminal or civil fraud
violations may have occurred, it shall refer the matter to the
Department of Justice, the Inspector General for the agency, or other
appropriate investigative body. (OSTP, 2003)
Ch10-P088531.qxd 2/22/06 11:47 AM Page 129

Get Engineering Ethics now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.