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Out of bounds

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Science  27 Jan 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6323, pp. 339-341
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6323.339

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Summary

Tensions between a graduate student and a prominent biomedical researcher at Harvard University have produced a series of extraordinary events, including an involuntary psychiatric evaluation of the student and a court order against the scientist ordering him to stay 30.5 meters away from the student and have no contact. The student says the forced evaluation occurred because he had filed a scientific misconduct complaint against the researcher, and that it constituted retaliation. A state judge agreed. But the researcher says he acted only out of concern for the student's welfare, and is seeking to have the order overturned. All sides say the order has created tense and difficult working conditions. And the dispute has left bystanders wondering how a conflict between a mentor and his student spiraled so dramatically out of control, jeopardizing the reputation of a prominent scientist and an elite research university, along with the future of a promising young scientist.

  • * Alison McCook, editor of Retraction Watch, is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This story is the product of a collaboration between Science and Retraction Watch.