Climategate Over, Sort-of
You’ve all heard about “Climategate” (in fact, we blogged about it earlier this week!). Penn State professor Michael Mann has been linked to emails that suggest research was falsified to support the claim for man-made global warming. In response, Penn State began an inquiry committee to look into the matter. After a few weeks of inquiring, the committee has decided to begin investigating instead.
But what is the difference between an Inquiry and an Investigation? Both are outlined in University policy RA10, “Handling Inquiries/Investigations Into Questions of Ethics in Research and in Other Scholarly Activities”. This lengthy, yet accurately-titled, policy sets out the procedure to looking into situations such as Mann’s.
The purpose of the Inquiry is to find if any of the allegations against a researcher can be definitively dismissed or verified. The committee asked four questions of Mann during this period:
- Did you falsify or suppress data?
- Did you attempt to conceal the relevant e-mails?
- Did you misuse privileged or confidential information?
- Did you deviate from accepted academic practices?
In this case, the committee found no evidence that the first three allegations were true and has dismissed them. Their decision to move into a more in depth investigation is explained in their report.
Policy RA-10 speaks not just of research misconduct but also of research conduct and isexplicit regarding the responsibility that we have as scientists to maintain the public trust.