MURRAY HILL, N.J., Sept. 27 -- A Bells Labs scientist was fired this week after a committee determined he engaged in scientific misconduct by falsifying and fabricating experimental data between 1998 and 2001.
According to an article in the The New York Times, an investigation by an independent committee formed by Bell Labs in May revealed that "A series of extraordinary advances in physics claimed by scientists at Bell Labs relied on fraudulent data. The findings, in effect, dismiss as fiction results from 17 papers that had been promoted as major breakthroughs in physics, including claims last fall that Bell Labs had created molecular-scale transistors."
Bell Labs immediately fired one scientist, J. Hendrik Schon, 32, "who a year ago had been thought to be on a fast path to a Nobel Prize," the Times said.
The committee cleared all the other researchers who had contributed to the experiments, and who were co-authors on several published papers, of any scientific misconduct.
Bell Labs said it immediately notified scientific journals in which the work in question was originally published about subsequent questions on the validity of the data.
Jeff Jaffe, president of research at Bell Labs, said this is the first case of scientific misconduct in Bell Labs' 77-year history. "We are reinforcing our policies and procedures for the publication of experimental results and encouraging more rigorous internal peer reviews," he said. "At the same time, we remain committed to maintaining the scientific freedom essential for discovery and innovation to flourish."
The committee's full report, including an executive summary, is available online: www.lucent.com/news_events/researchreview.html