Reporter Column
Reporter Column
  • Reporter Gyak Ki-won
  • 승인 2015.10.07 20:15
  • 댓글 0
이 기사를 공유합니다

The Importance of Research Ethics
   Almost all scientists publish research papers to announce their research results or interesting scientific discoveries. Also the published paper itself works as criteria of the scientific activity of scientists. There is famous saying in scientific fields: “publish or perish”. Due to the burden of publication, some scientists violate research ethics.
   Early last year, there was a tremendous discovery in the field of biology. A Japanese scientist, Haruko Obokata, developed the Stimulus-Triggered Acquisition of Pluripotency (STAP) technique, which can generate pluripotent stem cells from ordinary cells by giving certain types of stress—such as acidity changes toward cells. This discovery brought a huge shock to researchers because it solved the ethical problem of stem cells and it is an incredibly easy technique compared to conventional method. However, it was later discovered that the STAP cell discovery was bogus. No researchers around the world could reproduce the result, and the result was revealed as a forgery. Because of a single fabricated research paper and the greed of 1 scientist, the whole research field related to stem cells were daunted, and scientists faced the great wall of bioethics.
   Many scientists and researchers had already suffered from a similar affair about ten years ago. Woo-suk Hwang, a Korean scientist, published a paper about human embryonic stem cells and he became a national hero. People who suffer from disability thought that Dr. Hwang might be a guiding light to treat their infirmity. But, the research came out as a falsification and fabrication. A lot of money and effort was wasted and this was a huge disappointment. Also, researchers whose work was based on Hwang’s “discovery” were not able to continue their projects.
   Violation of research ethics may start from a single scientist. However, the result can be enlarged like a snowball on the hill. The starting of the violation is pretty easy. Most high school students may have already experience breaking research ethics, such as modifying experimental data or exaggerating reports of the experiments. Many researchers have experienced a strong temptation to violate research ethics for many reasons, such as to publish a better paper or to get a better job.
   Remember, research ethics must be maintained. Someone’s fraudulent act does not only harm his or her career. It may spoil entire research fields and disturb many colleagues in the same area. Also, it may make the public lose interest and support toward academic fields. The reliability of the research is totally up to researchers themselves.