A compilation of articles regarding Research Misconduct issues. 

This page offers news-worthy topics for the Responsible Conduct of Research and Research Misconduct. Note: Due to the nature of web page evolution, some links may be broken.

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Implementing statcheck during peer review is related to a steep decline in statistical reporting inconsistencies

June 20, 2024
PsyArXiv Preprints
Michele B. Nuijten and Jelte Wicherts


We investigated whether statistical reporting inconsistencies could be avoided if journals implement the tool statcheck in the peer review process. In a preregistered pretest-posttest quasi-experiment covering over 7000 articles and over 147,000 extracted statistics, we compared the prevalence of reported p-values that were inconsistent with their degrees of freedom and test statistic in two journals that implemented statcheck in their peer review process (Psychological Science and Journal of Experimental and Social Psychology) and two matched control journals (Journal of Experimental Psychology: General and Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, respectively), before and after statcheck was implemented. Preregistered multilevel logistic regression analyses showed that the decrease in both inconsistencies and decision inconsistencies around p = .05 is considerably steeper in statcheck journals than in control journals, offering preliminary support for the notion that statcheck can be a useful tool for journals to avoid statistical reporting inconsistencies in published articles. We discuss limitations and implications of these findings.


Elite researchers in China say they had ‘no choice’ but to commit misconduct

Anonymous interviewees say they engaged in unethical behaviour to protect their jobs — although others say study presents an overly negative view.

June 11, 2024
Smriti Mallapaty

“I had no choice but to commit [research] misconduct,” admits a researcher at an elite Chinese university. The shocking revelation is documented in a collection of several dozen anonymous, in-depth interviews offering rare, first-hand accounts of researchers who engaged in unethical behaviour — and describing what tipped them over the edge. An article based on the interviews was published in April in the journal Research Ethics1.

The interviewer, sociologist Zhang Xinqu, and his colleague Wang Peng, a criminologist, both at the University of Hong Kong, suggest that researchers felt compelled, and even encouraged, to engage in misconduct to protect their jobs. This pressure, they conclude, ultimately came from a Chinese programme to create globally recognized universities. The programme prompted some Chinese institutions to set ambitious publishing targets, they say.

The article offers “a glimpse of the pain and guilt that researchers felt” when they engaged in unethical behaviour, says Elisabeth Bik, a scientific-image sleuth and consultant in San Francisco, California.


Researchers plan to retract landmark Alzheimer’s paper containing doctored images

Senior author acknowledges manipulated figures in study tying a form of amyloid protein to memory impairment

June 4, 2024
Charles Pillar

Authors of a landmark Alzheimer’s disease research paper published in Nature in 2006 have agreed to retract the study in response to allegations of image manipulation. University of Minnesota (UMN) Twin Cities neuroscientist Karen Ashe, the paper’s senior author, acknowledged in a post on the journal discussion site PubPeer that the paper contains doctored images. The study has been cited nearly 2500 times, and would be the most cited paper ever to be retracted, according to Retraction Watch data.

“Although I had no knowledge of any image manipulations in the published paper until it was brought to my attention two years ago,” Ashe wrote on PubPeer, “it is clear that several of the figures in Lesné et al. (2006) have been manipulated … for which I as the senior and corresponding author take ultimate responsibility.”


Biomedical paper retractions have quadrupled in 20 years — why?

Unreliable data, falsification and other issues related to misconduct are driving a growing proportion of retractions.

May 31, 2024
Holly Else

The retraction rate for European biomedical-science papers increased fourfold between 2000 and 2021, a study of thousands of retractions has found.

Two-thirds of these papers were withdrawn for reasons relating to research misconduct, such as data and image manipulation or authorship fraud. These factors accounted for an increasing proportion of retractions over the roughly 20-year period, the analysis suggests.

“Our findings indicate that research misconduct has become more prevalent in Europe over the last two decades,” write the authors, led by Alberto Ruano‐Ravina, a public-health researcher at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.


Copy-and-Paste: How Allegations of Plagiarism Became the Culture War’s New Frontier

Harvard had already found itself in the crossfires of the culture war. But with new software at their disposal and a trove of unscrutinized scholarship to dive into, the plagiarism allegations against Claudine Gay had opened up a new frontier.

May 23, 2024
The Harvard Crimson
Angelina J. Parker and Neil H. Shah

Plagiarism is a cardinal offense for academics. In December, it also became the latest cudgel in the conservative culture war on Harvard and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The development could not have come at a worse time for the University. Harvard was struggling to navigate public fallout from former President Claudine Gay’s now-infamous congressional hearing. The University was under a national microscope like never before, and politicians, alumni, and Harvard affiliates were calling for Gay’s resignation.

And amidst it all — as the Harvard Corporation met to discuss Gay’s future at the University — right-wing activist Christopher F. Rufo and journalist Christopher Brunet hit publish on a piece that would add a new element to the controversy: allegations that Gay had plagiarized large sections of her Ph.D. dissertation at Harvard.


Why Scientific Fraud Is Suddenly Everywhere

May 21, 2024
Kevin T. Dugan

Junk science has been forcing a reckoning among scientific and medical researchers for the past year, leading to thousands of retracted papers. Last year, Stanford president Marc Tessier-Lavigne resigned amid reporting that some of his most high-profile work on Alzheimer’s disease was at best inaccurate. (A probe commissioned by the university’s board of trustees later exonerated him of manipulating the data).

But the problems around credible science appear to be getting worse. Last week, scientific publisher Wiley decided to shutter 19 scientific journals after retracting 11,300 sham papers. There is a large-scale industry of so-called “paper mills” that sell fictive research, sometimes written by artificial intelligence, to researchers who then publish it in peer-reviewed journals — which are sometimes edited by people who had been placed by those sham groups. Among the institutions exposing such practices is Retraction Watch, a 14-year-old organization co-founded by journalists Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus. I spoke with Oransky about why there has been a surge in fake research and whether fraud accusations against the presidents of Harvard and Stanford are actually good for academia.


Pay researchers to spot errors in published papers

Borrowing the idea of ‘bug bounties’ from the technology industry could provide a systematic way to detect and correct the errors that litter the scientific literature.

May 21, 2024
Malte Elson

In 2023, Google awarded a total of US$10 million to researchers who found vulnerabilities in its products. Why? Because allowing errors to go undetected could be much costlier. Data breaches could lead to refund claims, reduced customer trust or legal liability.

It’s not just private technology companies that invest in such ‘bug bounty’ programmes. Between 2016 and 2021, the US Department of Defense awarded more than US$650,000 to people who found weaknesses in its networks.

Just as many industries devote hefty funding to incentivizing people to find and report bugs and glitches, so the science community should reward the detection and correction of errors in the scientific literature. In our industry, too, the costs of undetected errors are staggering.


Scientists Possess Inflated Views of Their Own Ethics

Scientists are many things. Being unbiased isn’t one of them.

May 6, 2024
Psychology Today
Matt Grawitch, Ph.D.

A recent Psychology Today post by Miller (2024) discussed the results of a research study1 that included a sample of more than 10,000 researchers from Sweden. Respondents were provided with a description of ethical research practices (Figure 1) and asked to rate (1) how well they applied ethical research practices relative to others in their field and (2) how well researchers in their field applied ethical research practices relative to those in other fields.

The study itself was not overly complex (in fact, each rating was just a single item). When it came to rating their own application of research ethics, 55 percent rated themselves as equal to their peers, close to 45 percent rated themselves as better, and less than 1 percent rated themselves as worse. When it came to assessing others in their field, 63 percent rated their field as similar to others, 29 percent rated their field as better, and close to 8 percent rated their field as worse.

Read more…

How reliable is this research? Tool flags papers discussed on PubPeer

Browser plug-in alerts users when studies — or their references — have been posted on a site known for raising integrity concerns.

April 29, 2024
Dalmeet Singh Chawla

A free online tool released earlier this month alerts researchers if a paper cites studies that are mentioned on the website PubPeer, a forum scientists often use to raise integrity concerns surrounding published papers.

Studies are usually flagged on PubPeer when readers have suspicions, for example about image manipulationplagiarism, data fabrication or artificial intelligence (AI)-generated text. PubPeer already offers its own browser plug-in that alerts users if a study that they are reading has been posted on the site. The new tool, a plug-in released on 13 April by RedacTek, based in Oakland, California, goes further — it searches through reference lists for papers that have been flagged. The software pulls information from many sources, including PubPeer’s database; data from the digital-infrastructure organization Crossref, which assigns digital object identifiers to articles; and OpenAlex, a free index of hundreds of millions of scientific documents.


So you’ve found research fraud. Now what?

Harvard dishonesty researcher Francesca Gino faked her research. But she still has a lot to teach us.

April 26, 2024
Kelsey Piper

When it is alleged that a scientist has manipulated data behind their published papers, there’s an important but miserable project ahead: looking through the rest of their published work to see if any of that is fabricated as well. 

After dishonesty researcher Francesca Gino was placed on leave at Harvard Business School last fall following allegations that four of her papers contained manipulated data, the people who’d co-authored other papers with her scrambled to start double-checking their published works. 

Read more…

One Scientist Neglected His Grant Reports. Now U.S. Agencies Are Withholding Grants for an Entire University.

April 10, 2024
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Francie Diep

The National Institutes of Health, the Office of Naval Research, and the U.S. Army are withholding all of their grants from the University of California at San Diego because one scientist failed to turn in required final reports for two of his grants, according to a message sent to the campus community on Tuesday.

“This action is the result of one Principal Investigator’s extended non-submission of final technical reports for two awards,” Corinne Peek-Asa, vice chancellor for research and innovation, wrote in the message. “If you are a PI receiving a new or continuing award from one of these agencies, you will receive a notice that the award will be delayed.”


One Way to Stop ‘Passing the Harasser’? Require Colleges to Ask About It.

April 8, 2024
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Michael Vasquez

Higher education has long been dogged by the “pass-the-harasser” phenomenon, in which employees found responsible for sexual misconduct have been allowed to quietly depart their colleges, only to be hired by other campuses who knew nothing of their misdeeds. Sometimes the misconduct continues.

That is slowly changing. California is the latest state to consider enacting a law that would require colleges to contact job applicants’ current or past employers to ask about policy violations. Assembly Bill 810, part of a larger package of anti-harassment legislation, has been passed by the state’s lower chamber and is now in the Senate.


Exclusive: official investigation reveals how superconductivity physicist faked blockbuster results

The confidential 124-page report from the University of Rochester, disclosed in a lawsuit, details the extent of Ranga Dias’s scientific misconduct.

April 6, 2024
Dan Garisto

Ranga Dias, the physicist at the centre of the room-temperature superconductivity scandal, committed data fabrication, falsification and plagiarism, according to a investigation commissioned by his university. Nature’s news team discovered the bombshell investigation report in court documents.

The ten-month investigation, which concluded on 8 February, was carried out by an independent group of scientists recruited by the University of Rochester in New York. They examined 16 allegations against Dias and concluded that it was more likely than not that in each case, the physicist had committed scientific misconduct. The university is now attempting to fire Dias, who is a tenure-track faculty member at Rochester, before his contract expires at the end of the 2024–25 academic year.


Why I foster multiple lines of communication with students in my lab

April 4, 2024
Denis Meuthen

When I started my faculty position, I was excited to be leading my own lab—and nervous. I’m legally deaf and rely on lip-reading for verbal communication. I had managed fine as a graduate student and postdoc, though not without misunderstandings and challenges. But leading a team was different. I worried about whether I would be able to communicate effectively with my lab members, and also whether they would respect me. My pronunciation is sometimes off because of my disability, which leads some people to judge my intelligence as lacking. I set out unsure how to navigate these uncertain waters. But after almost 2 years in the position, I’ve come up with a set of solutions for how best to communicate with my trainees. Many would be useful for any lab head, disabled or not.


Publishing negative results is good for science

April 2, 2024
Microbiology Society
Elisabeth M. Bik


Scientists face challenges in publishing negative results, because most scientific journals are biassed in accepting positive and novel findings. Despite their importance, negative results often go unpublished, leading to duplication of efforts, biassed meta-analyses, and ethical concerns regarding animal and human studies. In this light, the initiative by Access Microbiology to collect and publish negative results in the field of microbiology is a very important and valuable contribution towards unbiassed science.


Bik, E. M. (2024). Publishing negative results is good for science. Access Microbiology, 6(4). https://doi.org/10.1099/acmi.0.000792

Universities Oppose Federal Plan to Bolster Research Misconduct Oversight

The Office of Research Integrity is considering stronger regulations for institutional investigations of alleged research misconduct. Universities say it’s too prescriptive.

April 2, 2024
Inside Higher Ed
Kathryn Palmer

The federal Office of Research Integrity (ORI) is proposing changes that would give the government more oversight of investigations of research misconduct at colleges and universities.

But scores of university and research hospital leaders and the organizations representing them are opposed and say the proposed rules would be burdensome to institutions and could potentially deter people from reporting alleged research misconduct, among other perceived negative consequences.


How papers with doctored images can affect scientific reviews

Scientists compiling a review scan more than 1,000 papers and find troubling images in some 10%.

March 28, 2024
Sumeet Kulkarni

It was in just the second article of more than 1,000 that Otto Kalliokoski was screening that he spotted what he calls a “Photoshop masterpiece”.

The paper showed images from western blots — a technique used to analyse protein composition — for two samples. But Kalliokoski, an animal behaviourist at the University of Copenhagen, found that the images were identical down to the pixel, which he says is clearly not supposed to happen.

Image manipulation in scientific studies is a known and widespread problem. All the same, Kalliokoski and his colleagues were startled to come across more than 100 studies with questionable images while compiling a systematic review about a widely used test of laboratory rats’ moods


The Feds Want More Oversight of Scientific Research. Universities Are Fighting Back.

Research institutions are pushing back against proposed changes to misconduct, plagiarism investigations

March 28, 2024
The Wall Street Journal
Melissa Korn and Nidhi Subbaraman

Research universities and hospitals are pushing back against a federal agency’s proposal to boost oversight of investigations related to fraud and plagiarism, even as many face questions over the credibility of their scientists’ work.

The Office of Research Integrity, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, oversees more than $40 billion in research funds and is calling for more transparency in research-misconduct investigations. The recommended changes come amid high-profile cases at schools including Stanford University, Harvard Medical School and the University of Rochester. 


Bullied in science: I quit my job and launched an advocacy non-profit

Ahead of the Academic Parity Movement’s annual conference, co-founder Morteza Mahmoudi describes how it supports whistle-blowers.

March 12, 2024
Morteza Mohmoudi

I experienced a wide spectrum of academic bullying and eventually had to quit a job because of it. It was a heart-wrenching decision. Since my departure, I’ve found peace in a supportive work environment. I was determined to use all the available means to prevent others from facing similar situations.

So, alongside my scientific work, I study the root causes of academic bullying and harassment and seek solutions to them. I forgave my bully last year, but I still find it challenging to forgive those who protected the bully and ultimately forced my departure.


Automatically listing senior members of departments as co-authors is highly prevalent in health sciences: meta-analysis of survey research

March 11, 2024
Reint A. Meursinge Reynders, David Cavagnetto, Gerben ter Riet, Nicola Dr Girolamo, & Mario Malicki


A systematic review with meta-analysis was conducted to assess the prevalence of automatically listing (a) senior member(s) of a department as co-author(s) on all submitted articles in health sciences and the prevalence of degrees of support on a 5-point justification scale. Survey research was searched in PubMed, Lens.org, and Dimensions.ai. until January 5 2023. We assessed the methodological quality of studies and conducted quantitative syntheses. We identified 15 eligible surveys, that provided 67 results, all of which were rated as having low quality. A pooled estimate of 20% [95% CI 16–25] (10 surveys, 3619 respondents) of researchers in various health sciences reported that a senior member of their department was automatically listed as an author on all submitted articles. Furthermore, 28% [95% CI 22–34] of researchers (10 surveys, 2180 respondents) felt that this practice was ‘never’, 24% [95% CI 22–27] ‘rarely’, 25% [95% CI 23–28] ‘sometimes’, 13% [95% CI 9–17] ‘most of the time’, and 8% [95% CI 6–9] ‘always justified’. The practice of automatically assigning senior members of departments as co-authors on all submitted manuscripts may be common in the health sciences; with those admitting to this practice finding it unjustified in most cases.


Meursinge Reynders, R.A., Cavagnetto, D., ter Riet, G. et al. Automatically listing senior members of departments as co-authors is highly prevalent in health sciences: meta-analysis of survey research. Sci Rep 14, 5883 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-024-55966-x

Superconductivity scandal: the inside story of deception in a rising star’s physics lab

Ranga Dias claimed to have discovered the first room-temperature superconductors, but the work was later retracted. An investigation by Nature’s news team reveals new details about what happened — and how institutions missed red flags.

March 8, 2024
Dan Garisto

In 2020, Ranga Dias was an up-and-coming star of the physics world. A researcher at the University of Rochester in New York, Dias achieved widespread recognition for his claim to have discovered the first room-temperature superconductor, a material that conducts electricity without resistance at ambient temperatures. Dias published that finding in a landmark Nature paper1.

Nearly two years later, that paper was retracted. But not long after, Dias announced an even bigger result, also published in Nature: another room-temperature superconductor2. Unlike the previous material, the latest one supposedly worked at relatively modest pressures, raising the enticing possibility of applications such as superconducting magnets for medical imaging and powerful computer chips.


Peer Review and Scientific Publishing Are Faltering

March 7, 2024
Robert Villa, MD

A drawing of a rat with four testicles and a giant penis was included in a scientific paper and recently circulated on social media and in online publications. It graphically represents the outcome of disregarding the quality of science produced each year in favor of its quantity.

For many years, there has been talk of paper mills: publishers who print scientific journals and articles for a fee without caring about the reliability of their research. These publishers of what are called predatory journals sometimes seem not to care whether their authors even exist. The business pleases publishing groups paid by researchers, researchers who can increase the number of their publications (which is crucial for their professional evaluation), institutions that can boast of researchers who publish a lot, and sometimes, even interest groups outside academia or research centers that exploit the system to give scientific legitimacy to their demands (as has sometimes happened within antivaccine movements). Serious scientists and, above all, trust in science suffer.


Science integrity sleuths welcome legal aid fund for whistleblowers

Investor has pledged $1 million over 4 years

March 5, 2024
Holly Else

A Silicon Valley investor has pledged $1 million to help pay the legal costs of scientists being sued for flagging fraudulent research. Yun-Fang Juan, an engineer and data scientist by background, hopes the new Scientific Integrity Fund—the first of its kind—will make speaking up about wrongdoing less intimidating. The fund comes after a spate of cases in which high-profile scientists have retracted papers after whistleblowers made allegations of research fraud.

“As scientists, we need to be able to ask questions and raise concerns about other researchers’ work, without the risk of being sued, or going bankrupt because we have to hire a lawyer,” says prominent science sleuth Elisabeth Bik, an adviser to the fund.


Trends in US public confidence in science and opportunities for progress

March 4, 2024
Arthur Lupia, David B. Allison, Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Jennifer Heimberg, Magdalena Skipper, and Susan Wolf


In recent years, many questions have been raised about whether public confidence in science is changing. To clarify recent trends in the public’s confidence and factors that are associated with these feelings, an effort initiated by the National Academies’ Strategic Council for Research Excellence, Integrity, and Trust (the Strategic Council) analyzed findings from multiple survey research organizations. The Strategic Council’s effort, which began in 2022, found that U.S. public confidence in science, the scientific community, and leaders of scientific communities is high relative to other civic, cultural, and governmental institutions for which researchers regularly collect such data. 


Lupia, Arthur, et al. “Trends in U.S. Public Confidence in Science and Opportunities for Progress.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol. 121, no. 11, 4 Mar. 2024, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2319488121. Accessed 18 Mar. 2024.

Q&A: The scientific integrity sleuth taking on the widespread problem of research misconduct

February 28, 2024
Deborah Balthazar

Elisabeth Bik, a microbiologist by training, has become one of the world’s most influential science detectives. An authority on scientific image analysis who’s been profiled in The New Yorker for her unique ability to spot duplicated or doctored photographs, she appeared frequently in the news over the past year as one of the experts who raised research misconduct concerns that led to an investigation into, and the eventual departure of, former Stanford president Marc Tessier-Lavigne.


Responding to research misconduct allegations brought against top university officials

February 27, 2024
Taylor & Francis Online
David B. Resnik, Mohammad Hosseini, & Lisa Rasmussen


Investigating research misconduct allegations against top officials can create significant conflicts of interest (COIs) for universities that may require changes to existing oversight frameworks. One way of addressing some of these challenges is to develop policies and procedures that specifically address investigation of allegations of misconduct involving top university officials. Steps can also be taken now regardless of whether such a body is created. Federal and university research misconduct regulations and policies may need to be revised to provide institutions with clearer guidance on how to deal with misconduct allegations against top officials. For their part, institutions may benefit from proactively creating and transparently disclosing their own processes for independent investigation of research misconduct allegations against senior officials.


David B Resnik, Mohammad Hosseini & Lisa Rasmussen (2024) Responding to research misconduct allegations brought against top university officials, Accountability in Research, DOI: 10.1080/08989621.2024.2321179

Wanted: Scientific Errors. Cash Reward.

February 21, 2024
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Stephanie M. Lee

Scientific-misconduct accusations are leading to retractions of high-profile papers, forcing reckonings within fields and ending professorships, even presidencies. But there’s no telling how widespread errors are in research: As it is, they’re largely brought to light by unpaid volunteers.

A program launching this month is hoping to shake up that incentive structure.


‘Ethics is not a checkbox exercise.’ Bioinformatician Yves Moreau reacts to mass retraction of papers from China

A genetics journal has pulled 18 studies over concerns that study participants did not give free consent


February 20, 2024
Dennis Normile

Last week, bioinformatician Yves Moreau of KU Leuven scored an important victory: The journal Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine retracted 18 papers from Chinese institutions because of ethical concerns. Moreau has long waged a solo campaign against studies that fail to get proper free and informed consent when collecting genetic samples, especially from vulnerable populations in China. He had raised questions about the now-retracted papers in 2021 and says this appears to be the largest set of retractions ever over human rights issues.


Passion is not misconduct

February 13, 2024
H. Holden Thorp

University of Pennsylvania climate scientist Michael Mann was awarded more than $1 million in a lawsuit against bloggers who accused him of scientific misconduct in inflammatory terms, likening his treatment of data to what a noted child molester did to children. The verdict suggests that there are limits to which scientists working on politically sensitive topics can be falsely attacked. But the case also says something profound about the difference between matters of opinion and scientific interpretations that can be worked out through normal academic processes. Although Mann has expressed strong—and even intemperate—emotions and words in political discourse, the finding of the District of Columbia Superior Court boiled down to the fact that it is not an opinion that determines when scientific misconduct occurs but rather, misconduct can be established using known processes.


Vendor offering citations for purchase is latest bad actor in scholarly publishing

Unscrupulous researchers have many options for gaming citations metrics, new study highlights


February 12, 2024
Katie Langin

In 2023, a new Google Scholar profile appeared online featuring a researcher no one had ever heard of. Within a few months, the scientist, an expert in fake news, was listed by the scholarly database as their field’s 36th most cited researcher. They had an h-index of 19—meaning they’d published 19 academic articles that had been cited at least 19 times each. It was an impressive burst onto the academic publishing scene.

But none of it was legitimate. The researcher and their institution were fictional, created by researchers at New York University (NYU) Abu Dhabi who were probing shady publishing practices. The publications were written by ChatGPT. And the citation numbers were bogus: Some came from the author excessively citing their own “work,” while 50 others had been purchased for $300 from a vendor offering a “citations booster service.”


A flurry of research misconduct cases has universities scrambling to protect themselves

February 12, 2024
Angus Chen and Jonathan Wosen

There was a time when an allegation of data mishandling, scientific misconduct, or just a technical error felt like a crisis to Barrett Rollins, an oncologist and research integrity officer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Now, it’s just another Tuesday.

The renowned cancer treatment and research center is in the midst of a lengthy review of possible discrepancies involving around 60 papers co-authored by four of its top researchers over a period of over 15 years, including CEO Laurie Glimcher and COO William Hahn. And it’s hardly alone. Over the past decade, the number of research misconduct allegations reported to the National Institutes of Health has more than doubled, climbing from 74 in 2013 to 169 in 2022. And scientific sleuths are finding plenty of other problems that don’t always qualify as outright misconduct.


How journals are fighting back against a wave of questionable images

Publishers are deploying AI-based tools to detect suspicious images, but generative AI threatens their efforts.


February 12, 2024
Nicola Jones

It seems that every month brings a fresh slew of high-profile allegations against researchers whose papers — some of them years old — contain signs of possible image manipulation .

Scientist sleuths are using their own trained eyes, along with commercial software based on artificial intelligence (AI), to spot image duplication and other issues that might hint at sloppy record-keeping or worse. They are bringing these concerns to light in places like PubPeer, an online forum featuring many new posts every day flagging image concerns.

Some of these efforts have led to action. Last month, for example, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in Boston, Massachusetts, said that it would ask journals to retract or correct a slew of papers authored by its staff members. The disclosure came after an observer raised concerns about images in the papers. The institute says it is continuing to investigate the concerns.


An accidental discovery of scientific fraud: A reconstruction

February 9, 2024
Taylor & Francis Online
Marijke Schotanus-Dijkstra

Dear Professor Covan,

You have recently decided to retract the paper of Hania et al. (Citation2022). Thank you for inviting me to explain why I was suspicious about the originality of this paper which led to this retraction.

I am currently working on a scoping review about flourishing mental health during the menopausal transition. First, I read around 250 papers after initial screening of titles and abstracts. Second, I started with the data extraction process in which at that point around 40 articles were extracted in an Excel datafile. I started to impute the data of the paper of Iioka and Komatsu (Citation2015), but I discovered that in each of the columns, except for “study” and “country,” Excel showed me the exact or almost exact answer with the information I wanted to extract. For some columns like the age range and mean age (SD), this might be possible as some articles use similar datasets. Yet, the further I worked on the extraction for this paper, the more suspicious I got because each column seemed to be identical to one particular article, the one of Hania et al. (Citation2022). Especially the exact same key-findings of the exact same outcomes was disturbing.


Marijke Schotanus-Dijkstra (2024) An accidental discovery of scientific fraud: A reconstruction, Health Care for Women International, DOI: 10.1080/07399332.2024.2310709

Fake research papers flagged by analysing authorship trends

A new approach to detecting fraudulent paper-mill studies focuses on patterns of co-authors rather than manuscript text.

February 7, 2024
Dalmeet Singh Chawla

A research-technology firm has developed a new approach to help identify journal articles that originate from paper mills — companies that churn out fake or poor-quality studies and sell authorships.

The technique, described in a preprint posted on arXiv last month , uses factors such as the combination of a paper’s authors to flag suspicious studies. Its developers at London-based firm Digital Science say it can help to identify cases in which researchers might have bought their way onto a paper.


‘Obviously ChatGPT’ — how reviewers accused me of scientific fraud

A journal reviewer accused Lizzie Wolkovich of using ChatGPT to write a manuscript. She hadn’t — but her paper was rejected anyway.


February 5, 2024
E. M. Wolkovich

I have just been accused of scientific fraud. Not data fraud — no one accused me of fabricating or misleadingly manipulating data or results. This, I suppose, is a relief because my laboratory, which studies how global change reshapes ecological communities, works hard to ensure that data are transparent and sharable, and that our work is reproducible. Instead, I was accused of writing fraud: passing off ‘writing’ produced by artificial intelligence (AI) as my own. That hurts, because — like many people — I find writing a paper to be a somewhat painful process. I read books on how to write — both to be comforted by how much these books stress that writing is generally slow and difficult, and to find ways to improve. My current strategy involves willing myself to write and creating several outlines before the first draft, which is followed by writing and a lot of revising. I always suggest this approach to my students, although I know it is not easy, because I think it’s important that scientists try to communicate well.


‘The situation has become appalling’: fake scientific papers push research credibility to crisis point

Last year, 10,000 sham papers had to be retracted by academic journals, but experts think this is just the tip of the iceberg

February 3, 2024
The Guardian
Robin McKie

Tens of thousands of bogus research papers are being published in journals in an international scandal that is worsening every year, scientists have warned. Medical research is being compromised, drug development hindered and promising academic research jeopardised thanks to a global wave of sham science that is sweeping laboratories and universities.

Last year the annual number of papers retracted by research journals topped 10,000 for the first time. Most analysts believe the figure is only the tip of an iceberg of scientific fraud.


Impact factor mania and publish-or-perish may have contributed to Dana-Farber retractions, experts say

Learning from past errors (and misconduct) in cancer research


February 2, 2024
The Cancer Letter
Jacquelyn Cobb

More than a decade ago, Glenn Begley and Lee Ellis published a paper with astounding findings: of 53 “landmark” studies, only six, or 11%, were reproducible, even with the same reagents and the same protocols—and even, sometimes, in the same laboratory—as the original study.

Begley’s and Ellis’s classic paper, published in Nature, gave rise to a movement that captured the attention of the uppermost crust of biomedical research. 

Then NCI Director Harold Varmus, for example, focused on the paper—and the broader problem of reproducibility—at a 2013 meeting of the National Cancer Advisory Board (The Cancer LetterDec. 3, 2013). In 2014, Francis Collins and Lawrence Tabak, then-director and then-deputy director of NIH, outlined the institute’s plan to address the issue of reproducibility in biomedical research. Journals and funding agencies took action. Declarationsmeetings, and reports suddenly materialized, and research funders rapidly responded.


Surge In Academic Retractions Should Put U.S. Scholars On Notice

February 1, 2024
James Broughel


A December article in Nature highlighted an alarming new record: more than 10,000 academic papers were retracted in 2023 alone, largely stemming from manipulation of the peer review and publication processes. Over 8,000 of the retractions came from journals run by the Egyptian company Hindawi, a subsidiary of Wiley, and many were in special issues, which are collections of articles often overseen by guest editors that can have laxer standards than normal.

For now, researchers from countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Russia and China face the highest retraction rates, but it is sensible to ask: what would happen if a major scandal hit a mainstream American discipline? The idea seems less far-fetched than it used to. With disgraced ex-Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and former Harvard President Claudia Gay's academic records fresh in public memory, a scandal involving elite American researchers and universities is all too plausible.


In the AI science boom, beware: your results are only as good as your data

Machine-learning systems are voracious data consumers — but trustworthy results require more vetting both before and after publication.


February 1, 2024
Hunter Moseley

We are in the middle of a data-driven science boom. Huge, complex data sets, often with large numbers of individually measured and annotated ‘features’, are fodder for voracious artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning systems, with details of new applications being published almost daily.

But publication in itself is not synonymous with factuality. Just because a paper, method or data set is published does not mean that it is correct and free from mistakes. Without checking for accuracy and validity before using these resources, scientists will surely encounter errors. In fact, they already have.


Science sleuths are using technology to find fakery and plagiarism in published research


January 28, 2024
AP News
Carla K. Johnson

Allegations of research fakery at a leading cancer center have turned a spotlight on scientific integrity and the amateur sleuths uncovering image manipulation in published research.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a Harvard Medical School affiliate, announced Jan. 22 it’s requesting retractions and corrections of scientific papers after a British blogger flagged problems in early January.

The blogger, 32-year-old Sholto David, of Pontypridd, Wales, is a scientist-sleuth who detects cut-and-paste image manipulation in published scientific papers.


AI and the Future of Image Integrity in Scientific Publishing


January 22, 2024
Dror Kolodkin-Gal

Scientific publishing serves as a vital medium for sharing research results with the global scientific community. The images within an article are often integral to conveying those results clearly. However, with researchers sometimes including hundreds of sub-images in a manuscript, manually ensuring all images accurately depict the data they are intended to represent can be a challenge. Here, cancer researcher and founder of an artificial intelligence (AI) image-checking software tool,1 Dr Dror Kolodkin-Gal, explores how researchers and editors can improve image integrity, and how AI can streamline the publishing process.

AI and the future of image integrity in scientific publishinghttps://doi.org/10.36591/SE-4701-02


Whistleblowing microbiologist wins unfair dismissal case against USGS


January 11, 2024
Rebecca Trager

A microbiologist has won her case for unfair dismissal against a US federal agency after she blew the whistle on animal welfare and biosafety failures. The US Geological Survey (USGS) hired Evi Emmenegger as a fisheries microbiologist in 1994, and in 2006 promoted her to manager of the highest biosafety level containment laboratory at the agency’s Western Fisheries Research Center (WFRC) in Seattle. But in 2017, she became a whistleblower when she filed a scientific integrity complaint that the agency dismissed before putting her on leave in January 2020 and then firing her for alleged lapses in her research – a termination that was later retracted.


Genuine images in 2024

January 5, 2024
H. Holden Thorp

In recent years, the research community has become increasingly concerned with issues involving the manipulation of images in scientific papers. Some of these alterations—involving images from experimental techniques such as microscopy, flow cytometry, and western blots—are inadvertent and may not change the conclusions of papers. But in rare cases, some are done deliberately to mislead readers. Image sleuths who can detect these alterations, like the scientific integrity consultant Elisabeth Bik, have risen to prominence, as has the website PubPeer, where many of the detected flaws are posted. High-profile incidents, such as one involving the laboratory of former Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, have eroded public confidence in science and harmed careers of investigators who missed doctored images coming from their own laboratories. To address these problems, in 2024, the Science family of journals is adopting the use of Proofig, an artificial intelligence (AI)–powered image-analysis tool, to detect altered images across all six of the journals.