I'm an engineer and I mostly do R&D. Often I am asked to test our product (a sensor) for performance, for two kinds of audiences:
- Customers (where my employer's name goes on the document)
- Scientific conferences and journals (where my personal name goes on the document)
To be clear, I am never asked to do anything blatantly unethical, like making up numbers, or running tests repeatedly until I get one that looks nice.
There is however pressure of different sorts. Where multiple test methods are available, I am asked to choose the one that makes our product look better, sometimes after-the-fact. If our product performs poorly on a particular sample, I might be asked not to report that one. Or, if a promised report starts looking negative, management sort of "loses steam" over it and it sits on their desk for months.
There is also another, more amorphous kind of pressure, where data that I collect that show a deficiency in our product are met with skepticism, doubts about my test methods or my understanding of them.
I am concerned about protecting my own name and integrity as a researcher. I also need to respect my employer's business objectives. What are some strategies that I could use for balancing these needs and for talking to my boss about issues where I see a conflict? I also want to know: is it normal to feel this kind of pressure from management?