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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Facing legal threats, Science Fraud temporarily suspends posting

with 75 comments

As regular Retraction Watch readers may have noticed, a number of sites have sprung up recently to examine — quite critically — papers that other scientists say are dodgy. There’s Abnormal Science, for example, which has not been updated since last February, and a Japanese whistleblower took to YouTube to demonstrate what was wrong with two dozen studies.

The people running these sites have provided a useful service, in that they often nudge journals along and lead to corrections and retractions. When they’ve pointed out issues with papers, we always try to link back to them for details.

But these sites can also have sharp elbows, particularly those that are anonymous, and one site launched last summer, Science Fraud, has drawn unwanted legal attention from scientists whose work has been questioned. Last month, the site earned its first cease-and-desist letter. Today, the site has suspended posts, and deactivated all of its older entries. Here’s the post announcing the move:

As many of you may be aware, in recent days this site has been the subject of numerous legal attacks, and as such we have no option other than to temporarily suspend posting.  Specifically, a lawyer attempted to subpoena the contact information for the site’s registrant, from our web hosting company (DreamHost Inc). The lawyer (or someone connected to them) then wrote an email to more than 100 people whose papers have been questioned on the site, alleging to provide the identity of the site’s owner.  The person mentioned in that email owns the domain.

We hope this can be resolved in a way that continues to allow the scientific record to be scrutinized, whether anonymously or not. For the record, we have received one cease-and-desist letter since we launched in August 2010, but it was over using a scientific society’s logo, not our content.

Please see an update to this post, in which the owner of Science Fraud identifies himself and explains what happened.

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Written by Ivan Oransky

January 2, 2013 at 4:20 pm

75 Responses

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  1. Woah – that’s ugly, right? In your view does this amount to bullying, or is this probably driven by the anonymity of the accusers?

    e-Patient Dave

    January 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm

  2. Fraudsters are never shy about using (or abusing the law) to protect themselves.
    When I took complaints of scientific fraud to the University ORI (or equivalent) they secretly contacted the professor concerned and encouraged him to take legal action against me which he did.
    Being now unemployed, fairly penniless and without a legal residence permit I took the easy choice and skipped the country. I was mildly surprised for a University ORI to act with such cynicism – but only mildly.

    So nothing particularly new here.

    “For the record, we have received one cease-and-desist letter since we launched in August 2010, but it was over using a scientific society’s logo, not our content.”
    Well I am guessing that is because all you do is reprint retractions and any comments from the various parties involved.

    littlegreyrabbit

    January 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    • I take it you were in the country on a special permit to work at the university. At a lower wage than the university would have paid a citizen? And you had the gall to make trouble?

      JudyH

      January 3, 2013 at 12:09 am

  3. We are all poorer.

    fernando pessoa

    January 2, 2013 at 5:19 pm

  4. This is a travesty, how can they legally do this? What is the basis of the lawsuit? How can we support to get this site back up and running? Those fraudsters should be shaking, because retraction-watch and science-fraud are only the opening salvos in a war against science crooks who steal federal money to advance their careers. Those people are not sleeping well, I bet. They will be outed.

    Ronald Auktepus

    January 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm

  5. Part of the Science Fraud web site is available at the Web Archive:

    http://web-beta.archive.org/web/20121017042716/http://www.science-fraud.org/.

    For instance the following striking text belongs to an item “Nanotech’ fraud – there’s nothing small about it”, dealing with the work of SK Sahoo in India:

    (…) This case is also interesting from the gender perspective… Take a look at Sahoo’s lab website, specifically the members of his research group. All 12 of them are women. Quite the harem! As a female scientist myself, I don’t see anything wrong with that, but I do think it’s a little creepy for a male senior scientist to have a lab entirely staffed by females. In a male-dominated society like India (which routinely kills female babies), does anyone think these subordinates originated the fraud, or did the male P.I. tell them to?

    • Quite frankly I don’t see anything wrong with that picture. You can go through decades of lab pictures and see labs staffed with nothing but white males. The times are changing and an all-female lab is statistically not that improbable. Besides, aren’t all societies male-dominated?

      Renee

      January 3, 2013 at 4:01 am

    • Google also has cached copies of posts from the Science Fraud web site. For example, if you do a Google search of “http://www.science-fraud.org/?p=973″ and click on the “Cached” link you will get a cached copy of the entry with a header message reading “This is Google’s cache of http://www.science-fraud.org/?p=973. It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on 17 Dec 2012 17:14:59 GMT. The current page could have changed in the meantime.”

      Hopefully someone with the available time will get the additional cached pages not found on the web-beta archive, which only seems to have copies of Science Fraud posts in the last month or two.

      Many thanks to Paul Brookes for the valuable service he set up and maintained. I will do what I can to support him in getting a new site up and running.

      Steven McKinney

      January 3, 2013 at 3:59 pm

  6. Could it be that the use of the term ‘fraud’ is part of the issue? ‘Fraud’ loaded word with a real legal definition and to declare something a fraud from only looking at the published data (and not the primary in its entirety) seems like passing judgement without all of the facts.

    Note: I haven’t seen what is normally posted to the site since it’s been taken down and I’m going from what is described in the ‘About’ section.

    AMC

    January 2, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    • A publication should support itself. Often data are unethically withheld. It is a requirement of science that the data are available.

      Paul Colin de Gloucester

      January 11, 2013 at 3:38 pm

      • Agreed de Gloucester!

        All original data represented in publications must be made available when requested.

        Stewart

        January 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm

  7. SF, by using the work “Fraud” in their title and associating anyone’s work whom they posted on with that title- even work where the author wrote in and provided all the information about the errors not being fraudulent- were seemingly obviously opening themselves up to allegations of libel. I also think they were not nearly conservative enough with their accusations. I presume they were so accustomed to obvious cases, that they also included very marginal or questionable examples of “fraud”, and if the title of the blog is “Science Fraud”, even for them to claim things are questionable, they are associating with the word fraud with the science. Finally, they were very loose with science underlying several “questionable” figures, not understanding the nature of the figure or how some types of data normally appear or what the actual experiment being done was (e.g. claiming no loading controls on a fractionation experiment, not understanding that two descriptions of conditions having a repeated control cell image described the same condition, just differently annotated in respect to different variables). By being flippant in their posting, I think they appeared even more to be lobbing unsubstantiated allegations, and I say this essentially agreeing with probably 90% of their examples being easily worrisome from a fraud perspective, excepting their gel splicing fetish (gels/images should not be spliced, but if you are showing figures from older papers and those journals considered splicing acceptable, then posting it on a “fraud” site will probably get you in trouble).

    Pinko Punko

    January 2, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    • You are wrong. Most of the content demonstrated on science-fraud was indicating scientific misconduct.
      And this blog was an answer to the more than conservative position of journals,
      editors and investigative insitutions (if there are any in the country, like e.g. ORI in US).
      For instance, why is Rakesh Kumar from GWUMC still holding his position, after accumulating
      massive content of duplicated and falsificated data (in over than 25 papers). In my opinion “last authors” should be responsible for their publications. Just have a look on the case from Bullfone-Paus on retraction watch. I mean what do you think, who gonna be the first to reach for the nobel-prize? Fabricating and falsificating data means: betraying colleagues and society by wasting tax money and producing misleading knowledge. So, I hope you are not a scientist with a “gel splicing fetish”…

      Hans Müller

      January 3, 2013 at 6:33 am

      • Erratum published by Rakesh Kumar: Cancer Cell, Volume 23, Issue 3, 421-422, 18 March 2013
        It is a correction of:Cancer Cell 5, 575–585; June 1, 2004)
        Dynein Light Chain 1, a p21-Activated Kinase 1-Interacting Substrate, Promotes Cancerous Phenotypes.
        The corrected figures still appear to have problems. For example, part of image of the gel at the bottom of (corrected) figure 6B looks like it might have been duplicated.

        michaelhbriggs

        March 20, 2013 at 6:16 pm

        • This is messy. The response of some publishers does veer towards “damage limitation”, etc. Other publishers take a much stronger stance. If authors have transgressed the rules (made explicit in the guide to authors, COPE guidelines and so on), the paper is retracted. The authors are, of course, free to submit a manuscript of the appropriate standard elsewhere. This latter strategy seems a lot more honest than endless errata.

          ferniglab

          March 21, 2013 at 8:14 am

    • I agree with this post. I have been following SF, and have nothing but an intellectual interest in the material there. In general, I think the allegations are well-founded, but the tone of the narrative has been very strident and (in my opinion) accusations of fraud have been made rather freely. It would have made for less interesting reading, but the site would probably have had a longer lifetime had it been used as a clearinghouse for questionable data that let the reader make his or her own interpretations. There was a little too much “look at what so-and-so is up to now.”

      stpnrazr

      January 3, 2013 at 8:26 am

    • Looking at the posts on Science Fraud, how can data re-use, data fabrication (the litany of Western blots) etc., etc.) be called anything other than Fraud.
      I doubt very much that these are people who haven’t “made it” (whatever that means….) in science. They are simply scientists who are angry that a minority, who are engaged in training younger scientists have a total disregard for science, for the notion that everything is questionable and must be questioned at all times.
      It is absolutely wrong to state that splicing ever was acceptable. Before Photoshop and Western blots, there were cases of people carefully cutting out bands on gels and placing where they wanted them to be. When proved this led to retractions and was serious damaging to careers It has never been acceptable to alter data in this way. All data analysis must, naturally, make explicit or available the original raw data, so others can re-analyse.
      Remember that it has ALWAYS been the case that “cheating” is a major offence at school and university. Altering primary observations has always been regarding as cheating, whether one is at school, and undergraduate, a graduate, postdoc or Nobel Prize winner.
      Nothing has changed, except that the tools for fraud have become easier to apply and the tools to detect also easy to use(400%-800% magnification on a PDF shows up a lot).

      ferniglab

      January 3, 2013 at 10:03 am

      • If you look at their accusations closely for the individual instances, they have obvious errors and false accusations within a sea of likely true accusations. They were not careful enough and they were lackadaisical in specific instances. This would probably be enough to be actionable, in addition to the language they were using- lots of implications about motives. They were not erring on the side of caution. Again, I reiterate, the large majority of what they presented seemed clearly to indicate possibility of fraud, but a minority of their accusations were clearly false [again what I am saying is if they had 20 exhibits against some paper, perhaps 17 might have been correct, but 3 were stretching it or were false- to my mind this is not conservative enough and gave a whiff of casual or flippancy that was unbecoming to their stated goals]

        Pinko Punko

        January 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    • Yes, I agree Pinko Punko. I also read a few posts in SF – often they were great IMO, and gave valuable examples of data manipulation that could be used to teach students how NOT to prepare figures for publication, and what to look out for when reading papers critically. However, in other cases, it seemed to me that some of the errors highlighted in SF may have had relatively benign explanations (someone preparing the figure in a sloppy way) that could not automatically be taken as indications of dishonesty.

      DMcILROY

      January 4, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    • The email list SCIFRAUD (

      https://ListServ.Albany.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A0=SCIFRAUD

      ) has been hosted since 1988, in the same state (New York) where the creator of

      http://WWW.Science-Fraud.org

      resides. No party connected with SCIFRAUD was sued, but one whistleblower was taken to court (in Portugal) three times for supposed defamation by him on SCIFRAUD, and that whistleblower won those three court cases. Early emails related to those court cases are available from

      http://WWW.Albany.edu/~scifraud/scilog/index.html

      SCIFRAUD is managed by a lawyer.

      Paul Colin de Gloucester

      January 11, 2013 at 3:50 pm

  8. That is disgusting! Really disgusting! It will make people want to clear this thing up! This won’t stop like that.

    Frederic

    January 2, 2013 at 9:28 pm

  9. The allegation of fraud is a very serious issue, and should not be made without extreme cause. The use of the internet, unfortunately, has no bar for frivolous,, unsourced, and unsupported claims. I am not convinced that such websites are helpful – I have NOT gone to this one, so dump on me for JTC. Retraction Watch is a summarization site, where actions are summarized. This is not problematic. However, allegations are not innocent, nor can a person recover their reputation from an allegation. At an earlier position, there was an allegation of an inappropriate statement in a class. The statement was inappropriate, but was made by a student, not by myself, yet this statement damaged my situation. I strongly dislike unsourced allegations, and the ability to publicize allegations prior to confirmation can only bring difficulties.

    RuefulVictim

    January 2, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    • “So dump on me”, this is well deserved, sir.
      You can think that allegations are not innocent, but that doenst say anything about people that do the allegations than it does say about you. Maybe you are the one that does things with a hidden purpose. There are many people out there that do things for teh sake of science. The science-fraud blog do the allegattions and they PROVE IT, everything is scrutinized, poiinted out, all sources are given. You can double check every single detail. You have no ideia what you are talking about, you really deserve what you claimed, sir.

      Frederic

      January 2, 2013 at 11:29 pm

      • Booga-booga to you too. A site which does not confirm is bad, period.

        RuefulVictim

        January 3, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    • Could not agree more. I see RW as an aggregator or retractions basically. Publicizing allegations prior to confirmation can produce obvious damage to a person’s reputation and when that happens legal action is justified, in my opinion.

      Peter Bloomberg

      January 3, 2013 at 4:52 am

      • RW deals with post-mortem. The dust has settled, the bodies have been counted, the perpetrator has been identified. But to get to this stage, somebody must first scream ‘fraud!’. If a statement is not libelous, that is, it is true, publicizing allegations is perfectly fine even if it does damage to somebody’s reputation.

        chirality

        January 3, 2013 at 5:17 am

      • Chirality, if somebody screams “fraud” and it turns out to be due only to professional envy and paranoia (or frustration on the part of the accuser for not being one of the old boys), then the accuser should get in legal trouble.

        Peter Bloomberg

        January 3, 2013 at 7:17 am

      • Anybody has a right to sue anybody else. I do think that the people at SF have probably been a bit too blunt in the way they presented their findings. They should have been more detached from the subject matter and avoided questioning the integrity of alleged perps.
        Suing for libel is a double-edged sword, so I am sure most people featured in SF would think twice before choosing this option. I recall the Aitken affair in the UK in which a libel case terribly backfired landing the guy in prison. Besides, the SF writers do not pull their accusations out of thin air – if you exercise due diligence, a charge of libel will not stick.

        chirality

        January 3, 2013 at 8:03 am

      • GB Shaw: The Law is open to everybody, like the Ritz.
        Or slightly less relevant. Anatole France: The Law in all its majestic equality forbids rich and poor alike from begging for bread and sleeping under bridges.

        The fact of the matter is most normal people don’t want the expense or hassle with dealing with courts – particularly if they don’t have institutional support to pick up the bills. This is the internet age, just move the blog to a different jurisdiction, perferably with a front person that just deals with contributors anonymously and delete records and e-mails as you go. If you reallly want to go the whole hog you can even use something like Hushmail – but that is really overkill.

        Sweden is supposed to have good privacy records – just be careful about the girls there. Or Australia should be a legal jurisdiction suitably inconvenient.

        Fish

        January 3, 2013 at 11:56 am

      • I’d have reality over reputation any day. How reactionary!

        fernando pessoa

        January 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm

      • This is actually a reply to the post by Fish timestamped “January 3, 2013 at 11:56 am”, but WordPress is limited therefore it does not allow sufficient nesting.

        Another place which might be worthwhile for hosting a server reporting analyses of frauds could be Portugal.

        One whistleblower who used to be resident in Portugal at the time was taken to court (in Portugal) three times for supposed defamation by him on the email list SCIFRAUD (which was never hosted in Portugal), and that whistleblower won those three court cases. Early emails related to those court cases are available from

        http://WWW.Albany.edu/~scifraud/scilog/index.html

        Paul Colin de Gloucester

        January 11, 2013 at 4:02 pm

  10. It’s sad, It’s pretty clear that the Rakesh Kumar story with 30 something very questionable image issues was the thing that started this mess. If he wins this battle, I will start working with something else.

    Junk Science

    January 3, 2013 at 1:30 am

    • Yahoo search still has stuff cached. For those interested, you can pick up most of these highlighted images by querying with “science fraud rakesh kumar”. Substituting the author will get you other stuff from the blog. For example Claudio Soto is quite enjoyable.

      Scrutineer

      January 3, 2013 at 5:23 am

  11. The Science Fraud site does investigative journalism in the realm of science. There is an intrinsic value in identifying proverbial bed apples because such people, while personally benefiting from the fraud they perpetrate, lead science astray and waste tons of, mostly taxpayers’, money. The Catholics say that you should condemn the sin, not the sinner. As it turns out, this is also a healthy attitude from a legal point of view. Instead of getting personal in judging ALLEGED fraudsters, SF should have focused solely on identifying fraudulent acts and explaining their mechanics – they are excellent at this. Additional comments about the perpetrators are not vital because the facts speak for themselves. When Bernstein and Woodward were investigating the Watergate scandal, they did not write that Nixon was an SOB. They did not have to and did not want to. I hope it ends well for SF and it will be operating as normal very soon.

    chirality

    January 3, 2013 at 5:05 am

  12. We teach our students from day one about plagiarism of text and data and if they engage in this they lose marks for a single minor offence. A series of minor offences or a major offence results in a mark of zero and can lead to expulsion. So what is documented on Science Fraud is pretty much just that.
    There may be honest mistakes, where innocence of the PI could result in, for example, a spliced blot with an original that is fine. However, people have in such instances raised the obvious question: why was the blot not run again, after all there must have been a series of technical replicates (run the same samples again), as well as biological replicates? Maybe all of these were run in the same order for a “different paper” that didn’t make it out of the hypothesis block.
    So there are exceptions, but the reaction of anyone whose work has been posted in Science Fraud should surely be one of embarrassment followed by a search through the data archives and the issuing of a correction, e.g., original, full image of the blots with no adjustment or analogous raw data. Then all is clear.
    The reaction of fraudsters is different. Sir Walter Scott put it nicely “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!” Once in, I suspect it is difficult to get out. Life is pretty easy, hypotheses pan out just fine, so you don’t have to think much, the papers roll out, the grants in and there isn’t too much work to do. If you look at the Melendez oeuvre, there are not that many experiments. So plenty of time to go out and play, rather than sticking in the lab trying to figure out a way forward with graduate students and postdocs that meets the sometimes conflicting pressures of the PIs ambitions and their futures.
    Nothing wrong with sharp elbows. Calls of “artefact” or “we have not been able to reproduce this” used to happen at question time at meetings. Somehow, meetings have become more docile, so sites such as Science Fraud replace this necessary questioning.
    For those who still cringe at sites such as Science Fraud, never forget that without direct questioning of the evidence, there is no science and Universities do no research, but merely engage in rote learning of what will be a stale and corrupt liturgy.
    Finally, for those who have publicly supported Science Fraud and similar sites in the past, remember the numbers.
    (1) A very small number of papers are retracted very year. Though this number should certainly be higher, it will remain pretty low. Most of our colleagues are extremely honest and quite shocked that anyone would engage in fraud, to the extent that one might accuse them of an innocence/optimism on a par with Candide’s. The world is a better place for that.
    (2) Very few people are willing to stick their head above the parapet and be critical, anonymously or openly. It does annoy people and can seriously harm your future. The PI’s institution, journal editors and funding agencies would generally not wish to get involved and would prefer to keep a lid on things. Extra work, bad for image and so on. So we have public statements, which are generally at some variance with day-to-day operations. One only has to look at the recent post here (December 20) on Nature’s Richard van Noorden’s critique of the enquiries into Melendez at NUS, the University of Glasgow and the University of Liverpool. His robust and critical stance is at odds with some rather weak and obscure retraction notices from NPG that have featured on Retraction Watch.

    ferniglab

    January 3, 2013 at 6:44 am

  13. To Peter Bloomberg who wrote ‘Chirality, if somebody screams “fraud” and it turns out to be due only to professional envy and paranoia (or frustration on the part of the accuser for not being one of the old boys), then the accuser should get in legal trouble’

    When western blots are pasted together, when FACS plots duplicated for different antibodies and different conditions, when the same data is used in different publications, when millions and millions of dollars of taxpayers money is used by fraudsters to create work that has no benefit to society (see the Aggarwal, Croucher, Ezzet, Stearns, Karin cases) this is not science – this is fraud. Lets call it what it is.

    To embezzle money using faked data in grant applications, in my opinion, is not honourable.

    http://web-beta.archive.org/web/20121127201403/http://www.science-fraud.org/?paged=2

    It is not about the old boys network, as you oddly described it, it is about science, our society and our childrens futures.

    Stewart

    January 3, 2013 at 8:07 am

    • Stewart, professional jealousy often plays a role in this. There are some legitimate whistleblowers and a crowd of other people using accusations to feel better about themselves and to explain to themselves why they did not make it in science.

      Peter Bloomberg

      January 3, 2013 at 9:34 am

      • Peter Bloomberg, where you see professional jealousy in people showing others (often professors and heads of departments such as in Peter Crouchers case in Sheffield) have potentially committed scientific fraud, embezzled funds from grant bodies and tax payers, is a puzzle. Lets face it, if in Richard Eastells case, the Dean of the medical school has ‘investigated’ science fraud and found nothing – what hope is there for honest science when those in positions to do something sit on their hands and hope nothing happens? We all know how that turned out:

        http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Dr._Aubrey_Blumsohn

        You earlier stated others may well be doing it because ‘they are not one of the old boys’. Can you expand?

        Are you suggesting the ‘old boys’ (whoever they are) are covering up science-fraud to retain their networks to defraud the taxpayers out of even more money?

        As for making it in science, you appear to be defending the indefensible if you think they best way to ‘make it in science’ is to perform science-fraud.

        I would suggest to you, Peter, that those who hide the fraud or cover it up for a colleague are as guilty as those who perpetrated the fraud in the first instance. Instead of naming the owner of SF we should name those who actually ‘investigated’ misconduct and found nothing when it is clear there is anything but ‘nothing’.

        It is clear to many I have contacted that we need a full-scale network-database of the fraud, the grants awarded, the grant reviewers, those with responsibility of awarding the grants and to whom they are linked, the paper reviewers and this should all be accountable and open for all to see. We also need to see the grants themselves – and all the data in those grants, a very secretive process that I believe will open up an Aladins cave of fraud.

        Building such databases is my New Years resolution.

        Stewart

        January 3, 2013 at 10:27 am

      • Stewart, I’m just saying that to those who did not make it in science for whatever combination of reasons, a convenient and soothing explanation is that all the ones who did, did so through some kind of fraud or unethical behavior. So, I’m saying that there is some professional jealousy in the mix as well. Some (not the majority, I think) of the comments on this blog sound to me like rants by people with an axe to grind. I’m not a scientist myself, but my parents are and I’ve interacted with plenty of top academics in social settings over the years. You get to learn a lot from people who are a bit drunk.
        The fact that you seem to have a lot of time to build such a massive database of grants. reviewers and whatnot, suggests that you are not busy with the kind of stuff that top scientists are busy with. I know of no productive academic with that kind of time on their hands. What is your motivation, really?
        That said, all this is rather off topic for this site! It’s more of a meta-discussion on the topic.

        Peter Bloomberg

        January 3, 2013 at 11:29 am

      • “I’m not a scientist myself, but my parents are and I’ve interacted with plenty of top academics in social settings over the years. You get to learn a lot from people who are a bit drunk.”

        So are you a lawyer? One is entitled to ask what brought to you this blog if you are not a scientist? Why on earth would you follow Science Fraud if you don’t know what a western is or what it shows or what loading controls are ?

        I don’t mean to say people without scientific training should be excluded from discussion, but one is naturally curious when someone who confesses he doesn’t understand the substance of a blog, yet still has such decided opinions that it should be chased off the net.

        I would also like to know what stories your intoxicated parents told you that has given you such insights to these questions – but perhaps that might be too much to expect.

        Fish

        January 3, 2013 at 11:47 am

      • What a prig!

        fernando pessoa

        January 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      • Lawyer? Please, there are quicker ways to waste your life, thanks. I give money to scientists, as a matter of fact, and have to decide who to give it to, pretty frequently. That is what venture capital people do. So, I’m very interested in this topic.

        Peter Bloomberg

        January 3, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      • I don’t think that jealousy is a motive for most of the whistleblowing. Outrage is more likely. Most scientists are relatively “innocent” and believe in the pursuit of truth and understanding of the natural world. A few purveyors of dodgy science will cause outrage, anger, and generate a strong sense of betrayal. Most scientists are not that career driven. Like me, they would rather have a great result rather than step up the ladder, particularly as that ladder leads in just on direction: further away from science!
        Also, remember that in science there are a lot of young people and they do 90% of the work. The young are less tolerant and more idealistic (less corrupt even) and their outrage and sense of betrayal is palpable. Finally, what about the investment in”training” in labs where this sort of thing goes on? The public is investing its money through government in the belief that something useful will arise at some point to make life more tolerable. They send their money to us and their offspring.
        I think we have a very profound duty to be both correct and to correct forcefully those who step out of line.

        ferniglab

        January 3, 2013 at 2:03 pm

  14. Reblogged this on Aide à la rédaction.

    Ariane Beldi

    January 3, 2013 at 9:11 am

    • For clarification “what a prig!” is in reply to Peter Bloomberg January 3, 2013 at 11:29
      Not meant to offend anybody else.

      fernando pessoa

      January 3, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      • So, it was meant to offend me? Talk about axe grinding…

        Peter Bloomberg

        January 3, 2013 at 12:37 pm

  15. Note that brazilian and indian authors brought down the website. So much for emerging countries. Ignoring third world science leads to this.

    hibby

    January 3, 2013 at 9:47 am

    • How do you know it was Brazilian and Indian authors who caused the suspension of the SF web site?

      JudyH

      January 3, 2013 at 11:27 am

      • They sent the firstvletters

        hibby

        January 4, 2013 at 11:58 am

  16. Peter Bloomberg wrote ‘The fact that you seem to have a lot of time to build such a massive database of grants. reviewers and what not, suggests that you are not busy with the kind of stuff that top scientists are busy with.’

    You mean ‘top scientists’ like Kumar and his ilk? With all the massive fraud they have done in science? Is that who you mean, Peter? You know, we are not just describing fraud, we are describing damage to society, of lives that will not now be saved (medical science) which has a real and lasting effect upon us all.

    Do you know what it means to do honest science? It means not doing Science-fraud, the exact fraud you seem to be defending. The exact fraud the blog will expose.

    You see, Peter, Science fraud damages us all. It really does. Our children, our families. It means that grants will be given to science fraudsters to research things that will do you, your family and your friends no good whatsoever.

    Peter, science is about improving the lives of those around us, both now and in the future. I understand you have your opinions Peter.

    That’s your right. And your are entitled to have your opinions.

    Thats is exactly what you seem to think the SF blog is all about – opinions.

    But it isn’t Peter, the science blog is about exposing science fraud, not my opnion, or yours, just the truth.

    We can all handle the truth if we try, Peter.

    Have a happy and prosperous 2013.

    Stewart

    January 3, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    • There we go, now you are saying that all top scientists are like Kumar. I said nothing in defense of fraud, if you bother reading what I wrote. Rather, I’m just wondering about people who go off with ridiculous rants on the topic. Their motivation is just suspicious, as I elaborated earlier. And it looks more and more like I was right, I’m afraid.

      Peter Bloomberg

      January 3, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      • I’m inclined to agree with Peter. The fact that anyone with reasonable objections to the tone of the Science Fraud posts is being accused of “supporting fraud” or supporting the legal threats that took it offline is a good indication of suspect motivations. The contrast to the professional and dispassionate tone of RW is very stark – obviously this is a topic that Ivan and Andrew care about deeply, but not to the extent that they take everything personally.

        Anonymous crystallographer

        January 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      • Well Peter Bloomberg is supporting the legal threats that took it off-line – and makes no apology for it. It appears to be cramping his venture capitalist style as he showers deserving and succesful scientists with his financial largesse and turns up his nose at those unsuccessful failures moaning about bad practice

        “The contrast to the professional and dispassionate tone of RW is very stark ”
        But all they do is reprint retraction notices.
        I mean lets not get carried away with what they are doing.

        This is not a problem that affects all areas of science equally. Two major pharmaceutical companies recently published studies where they largely failed to replicate a large number of compounds that had previously been reported as anti-carcinogenic. This was widely interpreted as Industry expressing its concern that the quality of published findings was falling to unacceptable levels. On the other hand, I expect if you repeated 10 crystallography or structural biology papers at random, I am guessing reproducibility would be quite good. I don’t believe the reasons for that are hard to determined, unfortunately as a failed, envious and embittered scientist I have to stop typing and go back to flipping burgers.

        Fish

        January 3, 2013 at 1:23 pm

      • I did not say all ‘top scientists’ (your phrase, Peter) are like Kumar. You alluded to his type as a ‘top scientist’. I was suggesting he is not a ‘top scientist’, and disagreed with your stance that the reason people exposed him as a fraud was for any other reason than that he actually is a fraud.

        I disagreed.

        We are all entitled to our opinions, Peter.

        For someone who is not into science, you certainly have a keen interest ;)

        If you are suspicious, view your opnions with fact.

        Here is a fact: Science fraud:

        http://web-beta.archive.org/web/20121127202958/http://www.science-fraud.org/?p=871

        Yourself and Anon crystallographer seem more intent on questioning those who find science fraud rather than clear and evident science fraud.

        Reasonable objections noted.

        Stewart

        January 3, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      • There is a thought out there. It is released. Nothing can stop it. You can ignore it, but you will not stop it. Anyone can make a blog and show up suspicious data today. Many will. Many will follow. Scientists will come across fraudulent data and publications during their career and they will feel the urge to expose it. They will want to tell the world: “look, he is a fraudster”. And this is the right way. Do not judge the one who is seeking for justice.

        Hans Müller

        January 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      • If you are a good scientist you spend most of your time doing science. If you are not, you spend most of your time trying to bring down others so you can feel better about yourself. Same in politics, art, and every other field. That sums it up.

        Peter Bloomberg

        January 3, 2013 at 2:05 pm

      • “If you are a good scientist you spend most of your time doing science.”

        Golly, doesn’t sound like much fun. Are you allowed to catch the occasional movie or spend the weekend down at the beach?

        Fish

        January 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm

  17. http://www.psblab.org/?attachment_id=78 Have you guys looked at the e-mail that was sent out by the lawyers? SF was called “a hate blog”, which should be taken into account while discussing the word fraud. The e-mail was not sent to anybody at George Washington University, so it once again speaks strongly to that the Rakesh Kumar case is behind this mess.

    Junk Science

    January 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    • It was not written by a native speaker, that is for sure. I do not quite get why the author wrote the word “anonymously” in boldface. If this is the major criticism of what the SF author does, then there is no problem there. The author of the latter states that the accusations of fraud are without any evidence – I must have been reading a different blog then. Oops! I think the link to the letter has just died. It was quick.

      chirality

      January 3, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      • Yes it is gone, as is a very informative post on the psblab homepage by Dr. Brookes himself that explained the whole science-fraud.org saga.

        DrDoo

        January 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      • @Junk Science
        This might be a clue — anonoymous accusations are a crime in Brazil.

        Hibby

        January 8, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    • Repost please. Link is dead.

      Hans Müller

      January 3, 2013 at 1:59 pm

      • Seems like all is back up at the psblab.org page.

        DrDoo

        January 3, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    • Now there is an email list you wouldn’t want to appear on.

      I would suggest the use of image hosting site: imageshack.us – very handy for such situations.

      Fish

      January 3, 2013 at 2:10 pm

  18. Peter Bloomberg wrote ‘If you are a good scientist you spend most of your time doing science. If you are not, you spend most of your time trying to bring down others so you can feel better about yourself. Same in politics, art, and every other field. That sums it up.’

    That may sum it up for you, Peter, but not for many scientists and certainly not me.

    I do understand you are not a scientist, and thank you for telling us you are not, it makes it easier for me to understand your position.

    In science, Peter, the heads of laboratories write grants to keep people employed in their laboratories, sometimes based upon their own work, sometimes based upon others that have published new, exciting data. Keeping people employed brings alot of pressure, and it is sometimes understandable why some heads of laboratories or heads of departments resort ot science fraud to bring in the next grant to keep their employees fed and under a roof!

    However, if the data upon which the grant is based is fraudulent, such as in Kumars case, as exposed in the science fraud blog, it wastes alot of taxpayers money, researchers time and wont lead to that ever needing cure for cancer.

    I hope this clears it up a bit for you Peter.

    Stewart

    January 3, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    • As I understand science, a great deal of effort is put in to reviewing prior work. Studying all these reports is actually “doing science.” This is why results are published in the first place.

  19. @Fish I saved it, so I would never forget the people behind all these “image issues”, if they survive through this without any retractions and sanctions etc. Has anyone contacted Washington Post about this?, if I was a science journalist I would be very interested in this type of story. I also saw that Jonathan Leake at Sunday Times requested info on the SF blog about why SF has been forced to shut down. Media attention might be necessary.

    Junk Science

    January 3, 2013 at 2:18 pm

  20. Please see an update to this post, in which the owner of Science Fraud identifies himself and explains what happened: http://retractionwatch.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/owner-of-science-fraud-site-suspended-for-legal-threats-identifies-himself-talks-about-next-steps/

    ivanoransky

    January 3, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    • Thanks Ivan!

      Junk Science

      January 3, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      • Thank you for posting this screen capture – all of the other links are broken and I couldn’t understand what had actually occurred.

        Is the author of this email using a psedonym?

        Noah

        January 4, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      • @Noah The author uses a pseudonym. I saw a comment by “Fraudster” aka Paul Brookes, just a day before his site got shut down (that comment was removed when I later checked back the same day, probably some legal reason as well) that he apparently had gotten a second lawsuit by the Rakesh Kumar gang. It will be important to follow up on almost all the people (actually, in some cases the bad apples has been identified and been suspended, so there are some honest scientists in that list) whose e-mail addresses appear in this e-mail, so their so called “image issues” never will be forgotten. The funny thing is that “James McDonaughey” did as all a favor by saving their names in case we forgot, for eternity…

        Junk Science

        January 4, 2013 at 7:50 pm

        • It is the anniversary of Science-fraud.org’s disappearance. Alas, we hardly knew ye. Please stand with me for a minute’s silence.

          We know that the site has been hugely influential due to the many corrections and a number of retractions that followed in 2013, including those reported on Retractionwatch for Rakesh Kumar. Do you think Kumar’s lawsuit is ongoing? Brookes can’t tell us obviously. Is there a register of impending court cases or something like that to consult over there in the land of the free?

          Scrutineer

          January 3, 2014 at 6:43 am


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