Research comprises the bulk of revenue for many universities, drawing added pressure to the researching sector — a trend that Stefan Franzen, N.C. State University professor, thinks is compromising research ethics.
Franzen knows firsthand the quagmire that comes from lapses in research ethics after being embroiled for the past nine years in a research misconduct case.
In 2005, Franzen joined then-NCSU professors Bruce Eaton and Dan Feldheim, along with graduate student Lina Gugliotti, in a project to create palladium crystals by using RNA — a potentially lucrative process.
A federal investigation confirmed that research from 2004 had been falsified in a report released last month.
“I used to believe people only fabricated things for fame, but now I believe it is for money,” Franzen said.
He left the project when he discovered falsifications in the group’s research, and after the other members refused to deliver a correction in their published work, Franzen worked to refute their claims.
The National Science Foundation found that Eaton, Feldheim and Gugliotti had recklessly omitted experimental details and overstated their results, although the report did not use their names.
Franzen said two-thirds of academic research cannot be reproduced in the manner it was first performed, which he believes stems from a focus at universities to use research as an economic engine.
“Investors come in when you promise you can do something, but you know you can’t,” he said. “There really isn’t anyone there to check.”