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'Collateral Damage'

The Vancouver Sun this week reports on what it calls "an unusually creative case of academic misconduct," in which an as-yet-unidentified researcher "has been caught padding his resume and federal grant applications with studies that do not exist." The Sun says that while Canada's Natural Science and Engineering Research Council declines "to identify the scientist or university involved," officials there suggest "cutting off funding to the anonymous scientist 'sends a strong message and is line with current standards and expectation of accountability and is consistent with NSERC's zero tolerance message.'" Indeed, the anonymous scientist was not only stripped of his federal research grant, but is banned from applying for more for five years. "Many researchers have been known to fake or fudge experimental data, but this professor brazenly claimed credit for conducting and publishing studies that, it turns out, 'were not found in the published literature," the Sun says. After learning that NSERC has decided to cut his funding, the researcher made what the council called a "plea" of remorse, noting the "'devastating' impacts of losing the funding," the Sun says, adding:

The loss of the grant would have "extremely negative consequences to my research and those that I am responsible for including HQP (highly qualified personnel) trainees in my laboratory," he said in a letter ... noting how he supervises a postdoctoral fellow, and several PhD and masters' students and undergraduate research assistants.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers' James Turk tells the Sun that this situation demonstrates the potential ripple effect of scientific misconduct. "Graduate students, post-docs and research staff become collateral damage," Turk says.

The Sun adds "the council did maintain the portion of the scientist's funds supporting his students and their research."

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