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Appropriating the Ideas of Others - Case B5

George Friedman, a fourth-year graduate student, recently gave a presentation at a national meeting on the preliminary results of his research into the role of serum proteins in maintaining pH balance in blood. He and his faculty mentor, Dr. Fred Louis, were pleased with the outcome of the presentation. The work was favorably received, there was animated discussion during the question period, and, best of all, George was invited to lunch by Dr. Henry Jones, one of the leaders in the field. Dr. Jones and his group had a lively exchange with George, enthusing over his results and learning more about how he performed the experiments.

Four months later, having done another series of experiments to substantiate and extend the results, George was about to complete his manuscript. George's paper had evolved into a detailed and thorough experimental exposition of the issues with a careful mathematical interpretation of the data, prepared for the leading hematology journal. George brought the draft to Dr. Louis for comment, whereupon Dr. Louis showed a photocopy journal article to George. It was from a rapid publication journal, authored by Henry Jones et al., and described a few experiments similar to George's with a detailed discussion of the theoretical issues. George's abstract was cited, but without any comment concerning its relevance or importance to Dr. Jones's work.

Questions:

  1. Does this scenario disturb you? Elaborate on the reasons.
  2. Achieving priority is important in science. Who has priority in this instance? Why?
  3. Evaluate Dr. Jones's apparent actions. What would have been appropriate for Dr. Jones to do?
  4. What should George do at this point?
  5. Is there any action on Dr. Louis's part, as George's mentor, that might be appropriate?
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