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The Science Life

Researcher rehab

RePAIR aims to help those who have engaged in misconduct or unprofessional behavior

6:31pm, February 25, 2013

When a scientist hits rock bottom — making up data or cutting corners in clinical trials — it’s time for an intervention. That’s where James DuBois steps in. 

DuBois and his colleagues have started a project called RePAIR. It’s a bit like a 12-step program for wayward researchers, those who have engaged in misconduct or unprofessional behavior. Some scientists think DuBois is on the wrong track. “We’re getting a lot of pushback from people saying, ‘Why would you give anyone a second chance?’” With research funding and jobs tight, many think scientists with questionable ethics should be tossed out to make way for honest researchers. 

The worst offenders — those who repeatedly falsify data or rip off others’ work — might not be worth reforming, says DuBois, an ethicist at St. Louis University and Washington University in St. Louis.

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