The Scientist published an interesting article titled “Life After Fraud” today. This article is a true cautionary tale that shows us how Google might be more powerful in steering our careers than the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI).
In the article Dr. Daniel Page’s story is a wake-up call to anyone who doesn’t like editing or reading their own work, ad nauseam. Over the course of the process of adding and removing details from a grant application, Dr. Page accidentally forgot to remove data, or attribute it to the company he was collaborating with, after he was asked to remove the co-author’s name responsible for the particular data.
It can get even worse though when information about misconduct leaks onto the internet. Such was the case with Dr. Gerald Levick: Google has a longer memory than the ORI, and after confusing allegations of misrepresenting his qualifications on a grant proposal lead to a case of misconduct against him, Dr. Levick was suddenly unemployable. Although he managed to secure considerable amounts of funding, and he came with a small army of graduate students, institutions would not hire him. All thanks to Google. When entering Dr. Levick’s name in Google, the first page of results showed a record of the misconduct case that had already expired and should have been a non-issue since 1997.
Read more examples in the original article and in the mean time we might want to ask ourselves: Are we really too tired to give that grant application/research paper/dissertation another read before submitting it? After all, one small error might lead to an investigation but the real trouble is that everything has a habit of creeping onto the internet, and it seems Google never forgets.