A doctoral researcher working in a biology lab is concerned about deficiencies in how the lab animals are treated...

and how data is handled for publications. They try to bring up the issue with their PI several times but are brushed off repeatedly. Since the researcher is an outspoken advocate of scientific integrity, they anonymously file a report with the institute’s ombuds-person, in the hope of improving the research practice in their lab. The PI gets tipped off about the investigation into his lab by a colleague who is friends with the ombuds-person and is furious. Since their research group is small and given the attitude of the researcher, the PI immediately suspects the researcher of being the author of the report. Subsequently, the PI repeatedly claims that the researcher is “falling behind in their progress” in internal meetings. On these grounds they deny the researcher the opportunity to attend important conferences in their field, which severely hampers their career perspectives. Additionally, the PI who does attend the conferences, uses them as an opportunity to badmouth the researcher. They claim the researcher is a “difficult person” and sloppy in their work. The researcher eventually completes their PhD and strives to follow an academic career, despite their frustrating experiences during their PhD. The PI refuses to write a letter of recommendation for the researcher. Without the letter of recommendation and given the rumours about the researcher that were spread by the PI, the researcher fails to secure a postdoc position and eventually leaves academia. After they have left the research institution, the investigation into the allegations of bad scientific conduct by the ombuds-person that had dragged on for several years finds that the PI has mis-treated laboratory animals and forged data for several publications. The PI agrees with the institute’s director to leave the institute on amicable terms and quickly finds a new position at a different research institution that knows nothing about the investigation against the PI in their former place of work.

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