Implications of Clinical Research Misconduct and Fraud Accusations

One of the most notorious recent cases of research misconduct involved a South Korean stem cell researcher who claimed to have cloned human embryonic stem cells. However, the researcher was accused of fabricating crucial data and charged with fraud and embezzlement. The fraud charges were eventually lifted, but not before the researcher’s reputation was destroyed.

Although accusations of research misconduct and fraud have been present for decades, the number of complaints is on the rise, according to the FDA. In many cases, the researcher accused of such misconduct may actually be the victim of one or more unscrupulous individuals who make the complaint for his or her own ulterior motives. Some researchers may be targeted by an academic institution or the government. Other cases may involve a “whistle blower” who may just have misunderstood the situation.

Generally, a researcher who is said to have committed research fraud or misconduct will be accused of one of the following:

  • Manipulating or concocting research data
  • Failing to disclose financial interest or not properly disclosing conflict of interest
  • Plagiarizing or using another’s ideas without obtaining permission or giving due credit
  • Failing to present data that contradict one’s own previous research
  • Overlooking the use of flawed data or questionable interpretation of data
  • Circumventing certain minor aspects of human-subject requirements (e.g. related to informed consent, confidentiality, etc.)
  • Changing the design, methodology or results of a study in response to pressure from a funding source
  • Ignoring details or cutting corners to meet a deadline
  • Fabricating, falsifying, or mishandling of data for gaining some form of reward or benefit

No matter the circumstances surrounding the case, medical research misconduct and fraud accusations are considered very serious and should not be taken lightly. To combat any of the resultant consequences, a working knowledge of how research misconduct and fraud procedures are handled is crucial. Although criminal charges may come out of such investigations, a knowledgeable, experienced attorney may be able to obtain a resolution without anyone even considering such action.

If you are facing research misconduct or research fruad accusations, please visit our website at for more information.