Fakery. Ignored whistleblowers. Sabotage. Subterfuge.
Reading reports of institutional investigations into allegations of misconduct can sometimes feel like reading a spy novel about science. And we’ve read a lot of them.
In a recent post that drew from one such report, we wrote:
Whenever we learn about misconduct cases at public universities, we file such public records requests to obtain more information because we believe, as did Justice Louis Brandeis, that sunlight is the best disinfectant.
But just as retraction notices are often unhelpful and even misleading, suggesting a lack of transparency, reports of institutional investigations can leave a lot to be desired, and reveal flaws in the the process that lead to them. As we and C.K. Gunsalus noted recently in JAMA:
Depending on institutions to investigate their own faculty presents significant challenges. Misconduct reports, the mandated product of institutional investigations for which US federal dollars have been spent, have a wide range of problems. These include lack of standardization, inherent conflicts of interest that must be addressed to directly ensure credibility, little quality control or peer review, and limited oversight. Even when institutions act, the information they release to the public is often limited and unhelpful.
That’s why our JAMA Viewpoint included a peer review form for such reports, which Gunsalus filled out for a recently obtained document.
Over time, we have obtained more than a dozen of these reports — which can run into the hundreds of pages — by various means, including through public records requests, from reviewing court documents, and, in rare cases, when universities simply make them available. We are not always successful; some jurisdictions allow universities to keep such reports confidential. (We would be remiss if we failed to mention that such work takes resources, and that we could always use your help.) Here’s a list:
- Jatinder Ahluwalia, formerly of University College London
- Sylvia Asa and Shereen Ezzat, formerly of the University Health Network, University of Toronto
- Georgiy Aslanidi, formerly of the University of Florida
- Hengjun Chao, formerly of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York:
- Nasser Chegini, formerly of the University of Florida
- Ching-Shih Chen, formerly of the Ohio State University
- Azza El-Remessy, formerly of the University of Georgia
- Maria Fousteri, formerly of the University of Colorado Denver
- Almut Grenz, formerly of the University of Colorado Denver
- Mark Jackson, formerly of the Kansas State University
- Ishwarlal “Kenny” Jialal;, formerly of the University of California Davis
- Rajendra Kadam, formerly of the University of Colorado Denver
- Santosh Katiyar, formerly of the University of Alabama Birmingham and the Birmingham VA Medical Center
- Christian Kreipke, formerly of Wayne State University
- Prasenjit Mahato, formerly of the Kyushu University
- Ricky Malhotra and Karen D’Souza, formerly of the University of Michigan
- Venkata Sudheer Kumar Ramadugu, formerly of UC Denver
- Frank Sauer, formerly of the University of California, Riverside
- Lei Yao, formerly of the University of Florida
These are not the only reports to have been made public, of course. Just last week, for example, Stephanie Lee of BuzzFeed published a report from The Ohio State University about the case of Steven Devor as part of a larger story about CrossFit. (We’ve also reported on this case.) We say, the more, the merrier.
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