Research Data - Case No. 92-7

TitleResearch Data - Case No. 92-7
Publication TypeCase Study
Year of Publication1992
Corporate AuthorsNational Society of Professional Engineers, Board of Ethical Review,
PublisherNational Society of Professional Engineers, Board of Ethical Review
Publication LanguageEnglish
KeywordsAuthorship , chemical , Civil , ENGINEERING , University/Industry
AbstractThe XYZ Company headed by Engineer A offered to provide funding to professors in the chemistry department of a major university for research on removing poisonous heavy metals (copper, lead, nickel, zinc, chromium) from waste streams. The university then agreed to contract with XYZ company to give the company exclusive use of the technology developed in the field of water treatment and waste water stream treatment. Under the agreement, XYZ Company will provide a royalty to the university from profits derived from the use of the technology. Also, a group of the university professors organized QRS, a separate company to exploit applications of the technology other than the treatment of water and waste water. At the same time that the university research was being conducted, XYZ continued to conduct research in the same area. Performance figures and conclusions were developed. XYZ freely shared the figures and conclusions with QRS organized by the university professors. At the university, Engineer B, a professor of civil engineering wanted to conduct research and develop a paper relating to the use of the technology to treat sewage. Engineer B contacted the professors in the university's chemistry department. The chemistry professors provided XYZ's data to Engineer B for use in the research and paper. The professors did not reveal to Engineer B that the data was generated by Engineer A and XYZ company. Engineer B's paper was published in a major journal. Engineer A's data was displayed prominently in the paper and the work of XYZ constituted a major portion of the journal. The paper credits two of the chemistry professors as major authors along with Engineer B. No credit was given to Engineer A or XYZ as the source of the data, the funds that supported the research. After publication Engineer B learns about the actual source of the data and its finding.