The Case of Vipul Bhrigu and the Federal Definition of Research Misconduct

Science and Engineering Ethics 20 (2):411-421 (2014)
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The Office of Research Integrity found in 2011 that Vipul Bhrigu, a postdoctoral researcher who sabotaged a colleague’s research materials, was guilty of misconduct. However, I argue that this judgment is ill-considered and sets a problematic precedent for future cases. I first discuss the current federal definition of research misconduct and representative cases of research misconduct. Then, because this case recalls a debate from the 1990s over what the definition of “research misconduct” ought to be, I briefly recapitulate that history and reconsider the Bhrigu case in light of that history and in comparison to other cases involving tampering. Finally, I consider what the aim of a definition of research misconduct ought to be, and argue that the precedent set by the reasoning in this case is problematic



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Lisa Marie Rasmussen
University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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