The Spanish press has picked up on the story of a prominent veterinary scientist in that country who has been accused of research misconduct.
According to El Pais, the researcher, Jesús Ángel Lemus, whose areas of interest include the effects of toxins on birds, ran into trouble in December when colleagues complained to the Ethics Committee of the Higher Council for Scientific Research about the reproducibility of his results and other problems. That triggered an inquiry by the CSIC into Lemus’ body of work, an investigation that, evidently, could not find a body.
Per El Pais (courtesy of Google Translate):
The Ethics Committee of the CSIC is looking for a ghost. A ghost with a good academic background with at least six scientific publications in international journals.
The newspaper reports that a mystery co-author, a “Javier Grande” — that’s Dr. Big, to you — is listed variously on several (the paper says six, but we found five on Medline) of Lemus’ publications as being affiliated with two public institutions, the National Museum of Natural Sciences and the Research Institute of Hunting Resources (the latter of which made a modest splash earlier this year with a report that deer antlers might hold the keys to understanding osteoporosis in humans). But neither group has a record of him.
The publications in question appeared in PLoS One, Environmental Pollution, Environmental Research and Environmental Microbiology. One of the papers that featured Lemus and Grande as co-authors has been cited 14 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, but most have been cited fewer times.
So far, we haven’t seen any retractions of Lemus’ work. We spoke with the editors of two of the journals, Environmental Pollution and Environmental Microbiology, but both said our query was the first they’d heard of the scandal.
We’ll update this post as we learn more.
Hat tips: Miguel Camblor, Pierre-Michel Forget