Engineering Ethics

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The paper is mainly about the case of a Japanese scientist Obokata Haruko’s plagiarism case. This link gives more detailed info.

I’m not concerned with the issue of whether or not her stem cell technique works. what i’m concerned with is what seems to be plagiarism issues within the dissertation (note the comments on the references in one chapter, and how another chapter seems to be cut-and-paste from the national institutes of health in washington, dc.

Below is my expanded outlines, and I will provide professor’s comments on my outlines later. Also I will provide some of the online resources I found.

Expanded outlines
1. Background information of the case
a. Who’s accused: Obokata Haruko, a japanese stem cell biologist
b. What institute: RIKEN
c. What issue: the Riken research institute started an investigation into claims of irregularities in images of her several articles including the paper associated with the discovery of STAP cells in response to the allegations made on blogs and SNS sites
2. How the investigation is carried out
a. Investigation method: investigation committee collected and examined the materials, and then conducted interviews with all the individuals involved
b. Materials considered included the original data of the experiments, lab notes, files relevant in writing the papers, documents brought up by the individuals investigated, emails exchanged among the lab members and lab equipment used in the experiments.
3. Results of the investigation
a. Research misconduct by Dr. Obokata on two point:
i. manipulating the image data of two different gels and using data from two different experiments,
ii. poor quality of the laboratory data management.
b. Drs. Wakayama and Sasai allowed the papers to be submitted to Nature without verifying the accuracy of the data, and they bear heavy responsibility for the research misconduct that resulted from this failure on their part
4. Analysis of the case
a. For Dr. Obokata
i. What ethical framework applies
ii. What ethical lapses
iii. What could be done to prevent the lapses
iv. Lessons to learn
b. For RIKEN (institute)
i. What ethical framework applies
ii. What ethical lapses
iii. Suggestions on regulations improvement
c. For other people involved
i. What responsibility does the review committee have
ii. What responsibility does the co-worker in the lab have
iii. Anything the co-workers could do to help prevent the lapses happening
5. Conclusion
a. Lessons for all the scientists, engineers and students
b. Suggestions for improvement:
i. Regulations
ii. Academic environment
iii. Review mechanism


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