Is ethical oversight lacking in scientific research?

Alot of scientists get grants from different government agencies.
In the US, a branch of the Dept. of Health and Human Services call ORI, (Office of Research Integrity), prosecutes cases of alleged research misconduct where govt. grants provide funding.
People have a general tendency to believe that because the ideals of science are reasonably coherent and and the methods are accepted as sound, that science provides a less fallible type of truth and may be less likely to be influenced by a particular scientist’s point of view.
However, research misconduct and data manipulation could be seen as good enough reasons to take a sceptical view about certain elements of the enterprise of science.
Let’s not get into a moral debate, or an epistemologial one about what science should and should not do, or what it can tell us.
I’m interested in what people might think about how to solve the problem of research misconduct.
What can we do to ensure that our scientists have the necessary motivation to do what is right rather than the conflicts of interest that in some cases lead to misconduct?
Is ORI a good thing?
Here are some cases for anyone who might be interested:

I think that the ORI and its local equivalents are good things. But, I also think that for it to truly be effective, more energy needs to be placed at the Principle Investigator level. The NIH required ethics class, while a good idea is an absolute joke right now, and anything that tries to reach the maximum number of people directly will almost always be a joke. A few seminars that you sleep through won’t make you an ethical person.

But, if we can focus on the PIs, who set the tone for the lab and through pressure are often (indirectly) responsible for research fraud. While it would have to be at an institutional level, I think that it is important to consider things like ‘character’ as well as ‘ability to bring in the grants’.

That, or take a more legalistic approach and create a seperate office staffed by trained scientists who look through the published data and semi-randomly repeat experiments to ensure validity. Call it “The Department of Inquiry” and have them burn the Post-Docs who fudge data.

ORI sort of does that. There’s alot of scientists who work there. What do you think about the way that drug companies market prescription drugs?

I like the way drug companies go on tv and say “I’ve got this great new snake oil…” if only you have this symptom or that symptom… go and tell your doctor you have the ailment that our magical elixir can cure…

side effects of course are worse than the disease, but never fear

new from drugs-r-us, side effectacator…

you thought you’d be a stud with viagra and have to worry about a 4 hour erection (but still, no supermodel chick would give you the time of day cause you ain’t no billionaire)…

instead you get stomach cramps, have to wear adult diapers and your hair is falling out (…mr ronco’s spray on hair looks fuzzy too)…

call your comrades at aarp and we’ll piss and moan to the government so they’ll fuck your grandchildren with super taxes to pay for these new drugs…

nothing unethical there…


I’m with IMP on this one. But I’ve got a lot of serious issues with the way pharma works in the US.

Most of the research is done by federally funded grants at Universities . . . but Big Pharma gets to spend that last couple of million dollars and they get all the profit?

Unfortunately, the solution to that lately has been an increased private/public sphere were people at the Universities start caring more about money than impact factor. Basically the opposite of the solution I would like.

What about the new warnings on paxil that say kids become suicidal when they stop taking it suddenly? Or the 600 million in fines that the makers of oxycontin are having to pay now because they misrepresented research that showed the drug was far more addictive than they let on? Do people think that this problem is too big to solve? Or have the drug companies just turned too many of them into zombies who don’t even know there’s a problem at all?

My favorite was when they turned peeing into a disease.

What about “restmell legs syndrome” or acid reflux disease formerly known as heartburn. When did rolaids become a less viable option than some of these things that cost insurance companies 100 bucks a bottle and filter through your kidneys? Or depression? Give me a fucking break. I refuse to beleive that humanity has gotten to a point where so many people have been coddled for so long that now they think it’s a disease not to be happy all the time. The worst are things like “generalized anxiety disorder” or “ptsd” fuck off weaklings, when I was a kid and I cried, I was ignored, now I’m a grown up who knows how to deal with life. If I took pills for my mood I would go from feeling a bit stressed at time and getting things done, to being a fucking retard who was happy to be failing miserably. When you tell a sad person that they’re “sick” and that they can’t fix themselves and that all they have to do is take this pill every day, you instantly decrease their sense of welf worth. You make them feel broken. Now they either use that as an excuse for any behavior that they choose, or they feel so shitty about themselves for having to take a pill every day that the depression (which every normal person should feel on occasion) actually becomes a serious issue. In America it’s a disease to be unhappy, and people are going crazy from the drugs while doctors and insurance companies try and figure out a way to get enough healthcare dollars in order to provide decent healthcare to people who have biologically verifiable illnesses. I think it’s insane the amount of money that’s probably gone into r&d for mental health drugs, and acid reflux drugs and restless legs drugs and viagra yet we still can’t cure most of the real diseases that actually kill tons of people every year. Whatever you do don’t vote for Hillary, she gets major campaign contributions from drug companies and it doesn’t even take a critical thinker, let alone a rocket scientist to know that the ethics they employ are grossly improper.