Did Drs. Francis Collins and Anthony Fauci commit research misconduct?
A recent batch of internal NIH emails suggests they did by providing “advice and leadership” on a widely cited paper that did not acknowledge their involvement and dismissed a possible virus research lab accident in China. The issue? Hiding an author’s contribution to a paper is ghostwriting or plagiarism to be handled by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity (ORI), according to a 2011 letter signed by Collins, while Director of the NIH.
Following a 2010 report about multiple NIH-funded scientists who were caught publishing papers ghostwritten for them, Collins wrote the letter to confirm that the NIH does not condone the practice of scientists taking another person’s ideas without providing credit. “For example, a case of ghostwriting involving NIH-funded researchers may be appropriate for consideration as a case of plagiarism; i.e. the appropriation of another person’s idea, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit,” wrote Collins.