Whistleblowers (also called complainants) are persons with access to information about wrongdoing. As such they are indispensable to self-regulation in science. While allegations can be filed in any regulatory area (research misconduct, human or animal subjects protection, conflict of interest), most attention has been paid to their role in identifying research misconduct (FFP) since other methods of detection such as routine nonfinancial audits, are not required. Federal regulations and many state laws require institutions to: publish policies about how to receive whistleblower/complainant allegations, investigate them including determining whether they are made in good faith and to protect the complainant.
KeywordsWhistleblower Research integrity officer Self-regulation
- Culiberg B, Mihelic K. The evolution of whistleblowing studies: a critical review and research agenda. J Bus Ethics. 2016; on-line 20 June.Google Scholar
- Redman B. Commentary: legacy of the commission on research integrity. Sci Eng Ethics. 2016; on-line January 13.Google Scholar
- Report of the Commission on Research Integrity: Integrity and Misconduct in Research. 1995. US Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
Additional Suggested Reading
- Gewin V. Uncovering misconduct. Nature. 2012;485:137–139. (Statisticians from another university had to persist for some time to gain attention to findings that did not match an investigator’s data.) Google Scholar
- Yong E, Ledford H, Van Noorden R. 3 ways to blow the whistle. Nature. 2013;503:454–457. (Some whistleblowers obtain evidence by statistical analysis, others by prolonged efforts to persuade authorities and others by anonymous allegations.)Google Scholar