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Laboratory Misconduct What Can Happen to You?

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Abstract: Contracted laboratories perform a vast number of routine and special analytical services that are the foundation of decisions upon which rests the fate of the environment. Guiding these laboratories in the generation of environmental data has been the analytical protocols and the quality assurance/quality control criteria delineated in the contract. Key elements are the objective and accurate reporting of data accumulated in the course of these analyses to assure valid results. In addition, basic and universally accepted standards of conduct and propriety, when followed, not only assure the integrity of the analytical results, but engender public support for, and lend credibility to, the U.S. EPA and the scientific community as a whole.

However, violations of these principles by a number of laboratories have received wide attention and may undermine the environment in ways that go far beyond the waste of public funds. Although a relatively uncommon event in the scientific community, violations of accepted ethical standards inevitably appear in the scientific community as in all human pursuits. The EPA has a major responsibility, not only to provide an atmosphere that promotes integrity, but also to contribute to the establishment and enforcement of policies and procedures that deal efficiently and effectively with allegations/indicators or evidence of scientific misconduct.

In dealing with this problem, it is important to maintain an ambience of openness and creativity. Positive scientific progress cannot flourish in an atmosphere of oppressive regulation. Moreover, it is imperative to distinguish misconduct from the honest error and the ambiguities of interpretation that are inherent in the analytical process and which may be rectified.

The presentation discusses the criminal, civil and administrative actions that can be taken against the those who were found to have committed science misconduct. It is the authors' hope that this presentation will serve to enlighten scientists and managers and drive them to develop policies and procedures to prevent and deter scientific misconduct.

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Citation:Brilis, G. M. Laboratory Misconduct What Can Happen to You? Presented at Association of Environmental Health Sciences and US Navy Eleventh Annual West Coast Conference, San Diego, CA, March 19-22, 2001EPA/600/A-02/054 (NTIS PB2003-106594).
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Contact: Chris Siebert - (702) 798-2234 or siebert.christopher@epa.gov
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Division: Environmental Sciences Division
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Branch: Immediate Office of Division Director
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Product Type: EPA Proceed
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Presented: 03/19/2001
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Cross-Cutting QA Issues Involving Geospatial Sciences, Chemistry, Information Management, and Law
spacer Relationship Reason:   A Project of the Product
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Last Updated on Monday, October 22, 2007
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