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Deutch statements on fraud case were contradictory

(Editor's note: The Tech received a copy of this open letter addressed to MIT Provost John M. Deutch '61.)

Dear Sir:

In the May 3 issue of Tech Talk you addressed the MIT community with a statement informing us of the then upcoming hearings of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce. As you know, this committee has undertaken a review of the manner in which research institutions handle allegations of scientific misconduct. The May 4 and May 9 hearings were focused upon the MIT response to a case in which an MIT postdoctoral fellow alleged that original lab notebook data did not support a research paper that was published by MIT researchers based upon representations of those same data.

In your May 3 statement, you write that "although no formal charge of fraud was made, MIT reviewed that paper, following its normal procedures -- including informing and working with the federal sponsors of the research." A reader of this statement might reasonably conclude that the MIT response in this case was to inform the NIH [National Institutes of Health] sponsors in accordance with the MIT guidelines on academic misconduct (which were printed in their entirety in the same issue of Tech Talk).

The May 17 issue of Tech Talk carries a statement you delivered under oath at the May 9 hearing of this committee. In that statement you write "at the conclusion of the [MIT] review, I concurred in the judgment that the issues raised did not imply misconduct and that the review did not require a report to the NIH." This sworn statement is consistent with the NIH version of events, viz. MIT did not inform them of this case.

It would seem that your two statements are in contradiction and that a clarification to the MIT community might be appropriate.

Charles Maplethorpe '72->