The Wellcome and other science funders, including Cancer Research UK (CRUK), have announced policies this year that prohibit bullying as well as other forms of harassment.
The flurry of activity surrounding bullying has raised questions about how scientific organizations are run and how some researchers conduct themselves.
But Keashley thinks that this needs to change so that the behaviour can be better managed.
Her research, which draws on published evidence of bullying in academia from around the world, suggests that, in general, one-quarter to one-third of academics say that they have been bullied in the past year.
It even withheld certain findings from the Wellcome Trust because they contained highly confidential personal information.
The secrecy — and the resulting confusion — are prime examples of the difficulties that scientific institutions and researchers face in dealing with the thorny issue of bullying.Here, Nature examines what constitutes bullying, why so many accusations are arising and what impact it is having on research and on those who do it.Bullying between colleagues is commonly defined by psychologists, unions and workplace scholars as repeated and malicious mistreatment of someone that results in harm.Three months on, many more people from Rahman’s lab have left the institute.Yet most of the details about the case remain hidden from the public: Rahman has not commented about the allegations and the institute has released little information.A bully, by contrast, is typically not interested in developing relationships that allow their subordinates to grow professionally, says Keashly.They might also dish out bullying behaviour on a whim, whether or not the person they are targeting has failed to perform well, she adds.A prominent cancer researcher there, geneticist Nazneen Rahman, resigned from the institute following an investigation into allegations that she had bullied her staff.And in an unprecedented move, the biomedical charity the Wellcome Trust revoked £3.5 million (US.5 million) of the funding it had given her.It can take the form of someone spreading malicious rumours about another, undermining their work and opinions, or withholding information necessary for them to do their jobs.Supervisors can become bullies if they are overbearing, constantly changing a person’s duties or giving them impossible workloads or unachievable deadlines.