Office of Research Integrity (ORI) head David Wright leaves agency

David Wright (via ORI)

David Wright has left his post as director of the Office of Research Integrity (ORI), Retraction Watch has learned.

Although we’re short on details on the moment, we have confirmed that Wright’s last day at the agency was a week ago Thursday. Wright joined ORI as director in January 2012. According to his agency bio:

Previously, he served as an expert consultant to ORI from 2001 until 2011, working with both the Division of Investigative Oversight and the Division of Education and Integrity.  In that capacity he was the architect of the RIO Boot Camp program. From 1993-2004, Dr. Wright served as Michigan State University’s (MSU) Assistant Vice President for Research Ethics and Standards, as well as its Intellectual Integrity Officer, overseeing most of MSU’s research regulatory compliance activity. He also chaired the University’s Committee on Research Involving Human Subjects for 11 years.  From 2005-2011 David Wright was Professor and Chairperson of MSU’s Department of Community Sustainability where he taught and wrote on the history of science and technology and the responsible conduct of research. Dr. Wright has a bachelor’s degree from Princeton and a PhD in American Studies from MSU.

We’ll update as we learn more.

10 thoughts on “Office of Research Integrity (ORI) head David Wright leaves agency”

  1. I’ve known David Wright for years. In my opinion, he promised to be the best, most effective director of ORI to date. His departure is a loss for the whole research community.

  2. I am very sorry to hear this. Just a month ago at a conference hosted by CUNY, David spoke of the possibility of revising ORI’s 1994 working definition of plagiarism in light of the federal government’s 2005 revised definition (42 CFR Part 93).

    I sincerely hope that his departure from ORI is a positive move for him and that it is not due to any health issues nor to the challenges of working for the federal government. I convey my best wishes to him.

    1. Thumbs up for this comment. One certainly hopes that the reasons are not health-related.

      That being said, a statement cannot come too quickly.

      By all accounts Dr. Wright was committed to upholding research integrity. ORI Director: a dream job for one so committed.

      My first thought was, “is this a protest resignation after about a year of a more direct look under the ORI hood?” The plot of the movie I, Robot comes to mind.

      Ominous, if true. The type of event that should trigger a Congressional investigation, statue changes (criminal penalties for grant/contract sci-fraud, redefine plagiarism, name your favorite).

    2. I noticed Prof. Miguel Roig has commented, and given his intimate link to ORI, I wish to ask some questions publically, since I have not received a response in private. Also, given the central nature of Prof. Roig’s definition to plagiarism, to ORI, and to COPE, it would be fitting to examine Prof. ROIG in more detail simply because plagiarism is most likely one the increasing reasons for retractions and thus stories here at RW.

      Prof. Roig’s professional web-site ( has a direct link to ORI, through “AVOIDING PLAGIARISM, SELF-PLAGIARISM, AND OTHER UNETHICAL WRITING PRACTICES” (, and a list of papers (, which differs from another St. John’s University web-page ( What I felt to be particularly curious about this list was that, for the past 20 years (estimated ~1994-2014), Prof. Roig has become somewhat of a specialist in studying lying, cheating, mistrust, dishonesty, questionable writing practices and plagiarism (using key-words from the paper titles), with, on average, about 2 papers published a year on these topics, even in respectable journals like Science and Nature. This is absolutely laudable, especially considering that Prof. Roig’s opinion is frequently referenced as an “industry standard” in scientific misconduct, as exemplified by a recent paper by Prof. Samuel V. Bruton, entitled “Self-Plagiarism and Textual Recycling: Legitimate Forms of Research Misconduct” ( In the past few years, though, most papers published have been short letters to an editor, comments or notes.

      Most of these publications provide advice to scientists, including bio-medical scientists, which is quite surprising given the apparent (as judged by the online CV) lack of experience with medical or biological science, lack of experience with work in a classical bio-med laboratory (i.e., one filled with test tubes). In my mind, at least, this is ironic. It would be like a neurosurgeon offering advice to a skin cancer patient, or a veterinary scientist offering advice to a human nutritionist: somehow linked, but not perfectly adapted. Some of the claims and/or statements made in the 2003 ORI-sponsored paper ( may not be pertinent to bio-medical science. Consequently, it is essential to examine Prof. Roig’s published papers in more detail, also to examine how the issues of plagiarism and self-plagiarism have evolved over time.

      Very unfortunately, many (if not most, >85%) of these publications cannot be accessed without a subscription. Despite a formal request to Prof. Roig for these papers, none has been provided. When an individual, such as Prof. Roig, forms such an integral part of the fabric of ORI, I believe that it is perfectly fair to request Prof. Roig to make available all of his publications for analysis, especially considering that almost all 35 papers of the 1994-2014 period are related to the topics I mentioned above, but primarily about plagiarism, which has been a central issue at ORI. I believe that this needs to be explored in much greater depth because one of the gaps that we face in science publishing is a deeper understanding of the psychology of misconduct.

      My purpose in this public request is quite simple and the reason is two-fold:
      a) Prof. Roig is regularly referenced as an “industry” (i.e., publishing) standard when it comes to ethics, particularly plagiarism and self-plagiarism. Thus, the ~35 publications related to bioethics and publishing ethics should be made available for detailed scrutiny since the scientific community, including ORI, is/was relying very heavily on these opinions as a form of guidance.
      b) The exact links to ORI are equally opaque. How is it, for example, that Prof. Roig was vetted by ORI and thus potentially Dr. Wright? This question is fair because the ORI web-site indicates that the 2003 Roig study received ORI funding.

      I have in fact today re-requested 37 publications that appear on Prof. Roig’s CV and will update once I have received these papers and have made an in-depth analysis of the content.

      1. Readers of RW who might be wondering why I have chosen to ignore various email messages from Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva, including the request for reprints for 37 of my papers (37 …. seriously?), 10 of which are unrelated to plagiarism, should visit this Retraction Watch post, If you scroll about three quarters of the page down you will be able to examine the type of ‘in-depth’, ad hominem analysis that a commenter calling himself JATdS has already carried out on what is perhaps the most widely cited of my publications.

        1. Dear Prof. Roig, thank you so much for drawing further attention to yourself. However, deflection does not resolve the issues or answer the questions. Now that the entire RW readership knows who I am, we eagerly await the 37 PDF files of your papers for analysis*. I insist publically since once again, privately, you continue to ignore my requests, which are purely academic. In fact, to be frank, I am extremely concerned about the Bruton paper and there are some serious flaws, at least in my interpretation, with several comments and assumptions made in that paper. Upon closer scrutiny, it is revealed that the flaws may be emerging from the fact that the author, Samuel Bruton, has relied his basal definition of self-plagiarism on your definitions. Interestingly, when you e-mail Prof. Bruton, an ORI-logo appears in his e-mail footer, which tends to thicken the plot somewhat and murky the waters of this issue called “publishing ethics”. And this, to me, is extremely dangerous. Because if your basal definitions are in any way flawed, illogical, or incorrect, or cannot be applied to the bio-medical sciences, even if only a single clause, then this has massive negative repercussions across science publishing. My provisional analysis will reveal that in fact some key elements of your assumptions are flawed, or even practically illogical, at least for the biological sciences. Therefore, to be forced to follow “rules” and “guidelines” that may be based on a flawed foundation of sand sounds fundamentally wrong to me, and that is why I am forced now to question everything, everyone, independent of rank and file. And I will prove this, when the time is right, but in order to give a rounded and mature analysis, I need your 37 papers. Hopefully, my letter to the editor, which offers a critical appraisal of the content, is not ridiculously mishandled, as was my last letter to Prof. Grant Steen’s MDPI project at Publishing (

          Thus, to make a mature and in-depth analysis of your definitions, which continue to be widely celebrated across the “ethics” literature, I, as Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva or JATdS, and we, as the entire science community, need to access and analyze those 37 papers. So, I would kindly request, once again, less deflection to other blog pages, but rather to address, by the horns, the academic issues that need to be discussed on this blog, a de facto public forum of discussion for academic issues, so that we can start to better understand some of the causal reasons for retractions and not just make RW a listing of the retractions themselves. If you were not so central to ORI or if there were zero links to ethics bodies such as ORI, COPE, CSE, or others, I would actually say, “give it up Jaime, there’s nothing there”. But the depth to which you are intimately linked to so many publishers and “ethics”-related bodies and/or papers indicates that your papers need to be analyzed further. This is an academic discussion of central interest to the academic community and I cannot advance an academic analysis because you are failing an academic request, pure and simple. And thus, the scientific community needs to know this, not only the heartfelt warm words towards Dr. Wright. As simple as that. Here, at RW, as you have undoubtedly observed, science is in chaos, so to have a psychologist dictate to scientists what is or isn’t ethical may be problematic, at least for me, especially when that person (i.e., you) do not have any practical hands-on experience in the laboratory, in a greenhouse, or in the field. If I am wrong about my interpretation about your CV and your link to hard-core bio-medical science, then please feel free to offer a rebuttal here, publically, on this forum.

          Allow me to draw your attention to another RW blog where I commented extensively ( In that story, about Jeffrey Beall, Beall made factually incorrect or distorted comments that required me to respond, in public. This is one of the treacherous aspects of this revolution taking place in science. As scientists, we are being ripped apart, examined from every possible angle, and so, too must every player in the publishing world, including the publishers, the editors, the “ethics” bodies, and key individuals like yourself.

          *The list of 37 papers that cannot be accessed freely, or that cannot be found are:
          1. Roig, M. (2014). Yes, it’s plagiarism, but it’s complicated (invited editorial). Anesthesia and Analgesia, 118(1), 5-7.
          2. Roig, M. (2013). Scholarly vs. research misconduct [Letter to the editor]. European Science Editing, 39(2), 55.
          3. Roig, M. (2012). Training Module: Avoiding Plagiarism, Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative,
          4. Roig, M. (2012). Editorial: Avoiding unethical writing practices. Food and Chemical Toxicology, 50, 3385–3387.
          5. Roig, M. (2012, January 5th). Teach students to paraphrase (comment). Nature, 481, 23.
          6. Roig, M. (2011). On text reuse and the scholarship of science. European Science Editor, 37(3), 73-76
          7. Roig, M. (2011). On plagiarism, laziness, and scholarship (letter to the editor). European Science Editor, 37(3), 85
          8. Roig, M. (2009). Plagiarism: Consider the context (letter to the editor). Science, 325 (5942), 813-814
          9. Roig, M. (2008). Reply to David’s “Science as Schrödinger’s cat”. Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapies, 8(2), 263-267
          10. Roig, M. (2008). The debate on self-plagiarism: inquisitional science or high standards of scholarship. Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapies, 8 (2), 245-258
          11. Roig, M. (2008). The culture of mistrust is already with us. Write Stuff: The Journal for European Medical Writers, 17, 44
          12. Roig, M. (2008). Avoiding those little inadvertent lies when writing papers. Eye on Psi Chi, Winter
          Roig, M. (2006). Ethical writing should be taught. British Medical Journal, 333, 596-597
          13. Roig, M. (2006). On the Causes of Academic Dishonesty. Write Stuff: The Journal for European Medical Writers, 15, 4, 120-121
          14. Roig, M. & °Marks, A. (2006). Attitudes toward cheating before and after the implementation of a modified honor code: A case study. Ethics and Behavior, 16, 163-171
          15. Roig, M. & °Caso, M. (2005). Lying and cheating: Fraudulent excuse making, cheating, and plagiarism. Journal of Psychology, 139, 485-494
          16. Roig, M. (2005). Re-using text from one’s own previously published papers: An exploratory study of potential self-plagiarism. Psychological Reports, 97, 43-49
          17. Torres, M. & Roig, M. (2005). The Cloze Test Procedure as a test of plagiarism: The influence of text readability. The Journal of Psychology, 139, 221-231
          18. Salhaney, J. & Roig, M. (2004). Academic Dishonesty Policies Across Universities: Focus on Plagiarism. Psi Chi: Journal of Undergraduate Research, 9, 150-153
          19. Roig, M. (2003). Avoiding plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and other questionable writing practices.
          20. McClenon, J., Roig, M., Smith, M., & Ferrier, G. (2003). The coverage of parapsychology in introductory psychology textbooks: 1990-2002. Journal of Parapsychology, 67, 63-75
          21. Roig, M. & °deJacquant, J. (2002). Guidelines on plagiarism in writing manuals across various disciplines. Proceedings of the First ORI Conference on Research Integrity. Office of Research Integrity: Bethesda, MD
          22. Roig, M. (2001). Plagiarism and paraphrasing criteria of college and university professors. Ethics and Behavior (11) 3, 307-323
          23. Roig, M. (1999). When college students’ attempts at paraphrasing become instances of potential plagiarism. Psychological Reports, 84, 973-982
          24. Roig, M., Bridges, K. R., Renner, C., °Jackson, C. R. (1998). Belief in the paranormal and its association with irrational thinking controlled for context effects. Personality and Individual Differences, 24, 229-236
          25. Roig, M. (1997). Can college undergraduate determine whether text has been plagiarized? The Psychological Record, 47, 113-122
          26. Bridges, K. R. & Roig, M. (1997). Academic procrastination and irrational thinking. A re-examination with context controlled. Personality and Individual Differences, 22, 941-944
          27. Roig, M., & °De Tommaso, L. (1995). Are college cheating and plagiarism related to academic procrastination? Psychological Reports, 77, 691-698
          28. Roig, M., & °Neaman, M. W. (1994). Alienation, learning or grade orientation, and achievement as correlates of attitudes toward cheating. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 78, 1096-1098
          29. Roig, M., & °Cicero, F. (1994). Hemisphericity style, sex, and performance on a line bisection task: An exploratory study. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 78, 115-120
          30. Roig, M., & °Ballew, C. (1994). Attitudes toward cheating in self and others by college students and professors. The Psychological Record, 44, 3-12
          31. Roig, M., & °Ryan, R. (1993). Hemisphericity style, sex, and performance on a letter detection task. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 77, 831-834
          32. Roig, M., & °Neaman, M. W. (1992). Hemisphericity style and belief in ESP . Psychological Reports, 71, 995-1000
          33. Roig, M. & °Placakis, N. (1992). Hemisphericity Style, sex, and performance on a mirror tracing task. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 74, 1143-1148
          34. Roig, M. (1990). Hemisphericity style, sex, and torque. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 71, 539-544
          35. Roig, M. & Reardon, M. (1988). A new performance standard for promotions. Fire Engineering, June
          36. Roig, M. (1987). Studying for promotional exams. Fire Engineering, Parts I and II, February and March
          37. Roig, M. (1985). Hemispheric cognitive style and reflection and impulsivity. Proceedings of the Association of Human Resources Management and Organizational Behavior, 2, 146-151

  3. I agree with Ken and Miguel. David has been my colleague and friend for two decades, a truly fine person and a dedicated academician and federal research ethics leader. When I was an ORI official in the 1990’s-2006, I recruited David to be our expert external consultant on research misconduct (he had been the Michigan State University RIO for many years). Later the education and integrity side of ORI asked David to provide guidance and leadership for them, in education and research on RIOs. He developed the ORI RIO Boot Camps, for training and exchanges of case experiences among ORI and RIOs across the Country. Thus, I was pleased when in late Fall 2011 HHS appointed David as the formal ORI Director (he was the first scientist to hold that post since Lyle Bivens, Ph.D., retired in 1992 (a 1993 Act of Congress that established ORI by law mandated the ORI Director be well experienced in research as well as misconduct investigation). David has done a wonderful, outreaching job as ORI Director for the research and regulatory community; I witnessed the widespread praise for him from contributors and audience at last Spring’s ORI AT 20 Leadership Conference, and I am sure he will be missed by those inside ORI and the outside community.

    1. I come a from a neutral stand-point. Where can one find a complete list of publications by Dr. Wright? PubMed lists several individuals with the same or similar name. Another key question is, who will replace him, how will that decision be made, and who will make that choice, the US Congress?

  4. David’s resignation is a great loss to the community. I wish him the best, and hope someone inside the beltway is listening. ORI should lead by example: when there is a systemic problem within an institution, that institution needs a transparent process for acknowledging and fixing the problems.

  5. The entire field of scientific integrity is highly corrupted by “power structures” that begin with financial involvement of corporations with universities and other research organizations, continue with distortion of scientific publishing by companies, continue with phony “journal impact” measures distorted to favor a commercial company, continue with phony “university rankings” based on measures like “number of nobel prize winners” (none of whose work was done at the university in question). More generally, science and much of the rest of society is now throughly corrupted by “bean counters” of the McKinsey type who are thoroughly integrated into creating phony “media/public opinion consensus” in many fields – mostly for the profit of the “chosen ones” ….. …. …… Much of this seems to be related to an “elite” that has no affinity with Americans or American democracy …… …..

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