Online Posts Damage a Researcher's Reputation

From The Embassy of Good Science
Cases

Online Posts Damage a Researcher's Reputation

What is this about?

A complaint was made to a university against a lecturer in technology, who, it was claimed, had hindered the complainant's work by publishing disparaging and derogatory remarks about them on the internet. This is a factual anonymized case.

Why is this important?

The university that considered the complaint did not consider the matter to fall within the scope of a violation of research integrity nor did it consider the guidelines for responsible conduct of research to cover internet comments made by an employee during their spare time.

According to the Finnish National Board on Research Integrity ('TENK'), the internet comments put the limits of its guidelines for responsible conduct of research to the test. It deemed that the lecturer in technology had showed irresponsible behaviour by inappropriately hampering the work of another researcher. However, this was not enough to consider the act as a violation of research integrity.

For whom is this important?

What are the best practices?

TENK believes that it is important to keep the threshold low for initiating a preliminary inquiry into such cases.