Data in a Press Release


A scenario meant to stimulate discussion about ways of responding to a suggestion from a researcher who has a reputation of freely taking others' ideas.


In your scientific institution investigators have access to unpublished results of others. Recently you discovered that your colleague, Dr. Known, issued a press release that included key portions of your unpublished data, both primary and compiled. Cy Writer used the information in the press release in an article he wrote about exciting new work. The article was published in a widely read scientific publication. Dr. Known and his lab were credited, but the article does not mention you.

You are concerned both about the failure to credit you for the significant contribution that you made and that when you go to publish your findings in a few months, the journal to which you submit may regard Cy Writer's article as a prior publication of your findings.

What do you do and how do you go about it?


Caroline Whitbeck introduced methods and modules for discussing numerous issues in responsible conduct of research at a Sigma Xi Forum in 2000. Partial funding for the development of this material came from an NIH grant.

You can find the entire sequence on the OEC at Scenarios for Ethics Modules in the Responsible Conduct of Research. Some information in these historical modules may be out-of-date; for instance, there may be a new edition of the professional society's code that is referred to in an item. If you have suggestions for updates, please contact the OEC.

Caroline Whitbeck. . Data in a Press Release. Online Ethics Center. DOI:.