Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 639–653 | Cite as

Data selection and responsible conduct: Was millikan a fraud?



This paper addresses a problem in reporting scientific research. The problem is how to distinguish between justifiable and unjustifiable data selection. Robert Millikan is notorious for an infamous remark that he used all his data when in fact he had used a selection. On this basis he has been accused of fraud. There is a tension here — historians and his defenders see his selection as understandable and legitimate, while current statements about the Responsible Conduct of Research imply his selection was illegitimate. This paper discusses two main issues that arise in assessing his conduct, whether he was intentionally misleading and whether he actually did mislead the scientific community about some facts of nature. It is argued that he was not intentionally misleading, and that it is unlikely that he misled the scientific community.


Millikan fraud data selection responsible conduct of research 


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Copyright information

© Opragen Publications 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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