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SNU Seeks Research Accountability

Oct 18, 2006

Seoul National University (SNU) has presented guidelines to prevent research manipulation. The school has been trying to tighten ethical guidelines for research in the wake of a scandal involving the school’s former professor Hwang Woo-suk. Hwang brought big turmoil to Koreans early this year for his fabrications and use of false data in a paper published in 2005.

The SNU Committee on Research Integrity yesterday published a book on the types and cases of unfair and unethical research and distributed it to all professors at the school. The book details the definition of research manipulation, investigation procedures on manipulated research and the role of the committee.

According to the guidelines, misconduct in research activities includes ``fabrication,’’ faking data that is not existing or proved, ``falsification,’’ distorting research results thorough fabrication, and ``plagiarism,’’ copying others’ ideas or study results.

The book also cites four examples of ``impropriety’’ in research; including a person who didn’t contribute to a study or excluding a contributor on a research paper; using and taking research materials improperly; overlooking, aiding or concealing impropriety; retaliating against a person who reports his or her wrongdoings or disturbing investigations being performed by the committee.

When misconduct or improprieties are reported, the committee will investigate and ask the dean of the school to punish the person if the reports are proven to be true. It is also preparing preventive actions against research manipulation. Although reporters will not be identified, if someone makes a report of wrongdoing, and the report turns out to have no basis, the person making the report will be punished

Formed in July this year after Hwang’s stem cell fabrication, the committee consisting of nine professors is the first organization to monitor research manipulation among Korean universities.

It hopes to build a sound research culture and eradicate corrupt research traditions in Korea by promoting its roles and activities.

``Many professors in our school don’t know about our committee. Through this opportunity, we will introduce ourselves to professors and researchers at our school and prevent research fabrications and impropriety from now on,’’ said Cho Jin-ho, spokeswoman of the committee.

Korea Times
October 17 2006