...has agreed not to participate in federally funded research for 3 years and will pay $50,000 to the Department of Health and Human Services, according to the Justice Department press release.Seems minor compared to what happened to her students. In doing the right and proper thing and blowing the whistle on their cheating and lying PI, the six students lost pretty much everything:
But the outcome for several students, who were told they had to essentially start over, was unenviable. One, Chantal Ly, had gone through 7 years of graduate school and was told that much of her work was not useable and that she had to start a new project for her Ph.D. (The reason wasn't necessarily because of falsified data but rather, Ly and the others thought, because Goodwin stuck by results that were questionable.) Along with two of the others, she quit graduate school. Allen moved to a school in Colorado. Just two students chose to stay at UW.
Ethics aside (where it seems obvious that turning in a cheater is the right thing to do), whistleblowing is really important in that it ends the cheating behavior ASAP, and stops the literature from being polluted with additional incorrect and falsified results. As noted in this 2006 article in Science, even retracted papers endure and pick up citations. I've noticed in my class last year that students will summarize and cite retracted papers in their coursework, unaware that the information contained is incorrect. From the outcomes in the Goodwin case, it seems that scientists expect trainees who become aware of misconduct to take one for the team, and give up their careers in favor of the benefit to science as a whole. This sucks. How can giving up on your desired career compare to 3 years of giving up Federal support and a $50k fine?
Whistleblowing is immensely risky as a student--there is such an imbalance of power, that the tendency is to assume sour grapes on the part of the student and not that the "proven" PI is cheating (maybe because outright fraud is so rare?). The case much be really, really strong for students to go forward. The easiest (and most self-serving) outcome is to switch groups as soon as possible for the student, before any taint or investigation occurs. Goodwin's students were really brave and really strong to go ahead and turn her in.
On the other hand, maintaining the meaning and value of a PhD degree is important as well. Clearly Goodwin's students can't just get degrees for time served, given that their mentor screwed them over and prevented them from actually doing scholarship. That said, the six students had enough scientific training to notice the inconsistencies and collect enough data to prove a case to the point that Goodwin did not contest the charges. That should count for something, right?
Marc Hauser was also turned in by trainees. He gets a year off from Harvard, and they get?