After the fall

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Science  28 Oct 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6311, pp. 408-411
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6311.408

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For a scientist found guilty of committing research misconduct, the most serious sanction the U.S. government can levy is a temporary ban on receiving a federal grant. Conventional wisdom holds that such a penalty, called debarment, is a death sentence for an academic researcher. Unable to receive federal funding and stigmatized by their unacceptable behavior, many debarred scientists quietly leave their university, much to their employers' relief. But that's not true for everyone. An investigation by Science has identified at least two dozen such researchers who have managed to resume productive academic research careers after being debarred. Their institutions have decided that rehabilitation is possible—and preferable to banishment. But little is known about the process, which takes place under a cone of silence meant to protect both the individual's privacy and the university's reputation.