RCR Case Studies and Discussion Materials

The case studies and other discussion materials linked below have been assembled to help support the responsible conduct of research at Cornell.


A researcher wonders if her effort on the project should be sufficient to be named as an author on publications.

A faculty member consults with an outside entity to conduct statistical analysis for a study in which data was collected by collaborators from the company, and has to deal with an allegation of data falsification by the journal where the manuscript was submitted for publication.

A faculty member finds out that he is named as co-author on papers for which he believes that he did not make substantial contributions.

Collaborative Research

A researcher struggles to engage the community that its participants identify with, in the design and conduct of the research, and bears their wrath when results are published.

Conflicts of Interest

A researcher is getting funds from pharmaceutical company to conduct clinical trials; the sponsor will pay substantial amounts of money for each participant enrolled in the study. Could the researcher be conflicted?

A company that a faculty member consults for, also provides sponsored funds for his university research. The research funded by the company is showing indications that the outcome may have significant commercialization potential and value. The faculty member is not sure if the university and his students who worked on the research have any claim to the intellectual property on the research.

A faculty member’s consulting agreement with an outside entity includes research that overlaps closely with his university research, and promises student involvement and assignment of intellectual property.

Data Management

A researcher struggles with deciding between repeating experiments to generate new data and “cleaning up” his experimental data as suggested by a senior colleague, to improve the chances of publication.

A graduating student who is moving to another job, believes that the data that she generated as a graduate student belongs to her, and tries to decide if and how she can take the data with her and continue to work on it, when her advisor has asked her to leave the data behind.


A postdoc in a multi-cultural lab seeks to understand his no- nonsense PI’s expectations regarding ethics and hard work.

A student is overwhelmed with research and teaching demands from her PI, feels unsupported and unappreciated, and struggles with coping with her work and her PI.

Peer Review

After having reviewed a manuscript sent to him for review, a researcher realizes that his own research plan on a similar topic, is doomed, and wonders how to proceed.

Can a faculty ask his post doc to participate in a peer review of a manuscript sent to him for review?

A researcher is asked to review a manuscript about research that he and his graduate students are also pursuing. He is not sure if he should agree to review the paper because he might be conflicted.


A junior faculty member discovers that passages from a book chapter that she has written, were included without her permission or attribution, in a major text book authored by a well- known senior faculty member.

A hassled post doc tries to decide if he can use the background section of an older grant application that he and his faculty advisor had reviewed earlier, to add to his own grant proposal.

Research with Human Participants

A researcher is wondering if her target participant pool of Alzheimer’s patients can give true informed consent for her study.

A researcher who wishes to get data from convicted sex offenders struggles with acquiring data while protecting the privacy of his research participants.

Research Involving Animals

A student conducting tests with animals tries to decide if she can conduct an experiment that deviates slightly from her approved animal protocol, without seeking IACUC approval.

Research Misconduct

A junior faculty member is preparing to publish the results of her research, but is unsure if she should publish her results as one paper as required by the journal, or as several papers to benefit her curriculum vitae and increase her likelihood of earning tenure.

Rigor & Reproducibility

Visit the Rigor and Reproducibility Planning page for more resources and information about this topic.