Archive for November 21st, 2008

Moral Dilemma

There are occasional Science Ethics questions that must be confronted. Sometimes they are big: someone falsifies their data in which case a big storm ensues after it is reported. Sometimes they are small: someone misspells your name in a presentation and you want it fixed.

And then sometimes they are interesting from the point of view of `what is right’. So here is one of those.

  1. A publishes a paper with a partial analysis on day 1.
  2. B, C, D, E publish much more complete analysis between day 10 and day 60.
  3. A revises their paper with a complete analysis on day 61 (essentially writing a new paper, but not quite) and does not cite B,C,D,E nor any subsequent paper to day 1. The rationale being that the papers came after the posting date of the original paper and the work was mostly done anyhow.
  4. E notices the replacement and believes that A should have cited B,C,D,E.

Because A just filed a replacement, this will probably go under the radar unless E speaks up. Unless the referee of the journal is very aware of all the details of the history submission of various versions of the paper etc, he will probably not notice either and then B,C,D,E will look like partial analysis after the big analysis, etc etc.

The moral issue is twofold:

What should E do? Assume that E contacted A and A sticks by their rationale.

Is¬†A right? (is their rationale a `good’ rationale or is it flawed?)


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