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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Owner of Science Fraud site, suspended for legal threats, identifies himself, talks about next steps

with 319 comments

Paul Brookes, via URMC

Paul Brookes, via URMC

One of the owners of the whistleblower site Science Fraud, which went dark yesterday in response to legal threats, has identified himself, and explained what happened.

In a post on his personal blog (since removed)* — give the whole post a read if it reappears — Paul Brookes, a scientist at the University of Rochester, gives the history:

In July 2012 I registered the domain name www.science-fraud.org, and started a website, a clearing house for people to report suspicious data and other problems in the published scientific literature. This was motivated by several factors, primarily frustration at the current channels available for dealing with scientific misconduct which one encounters on an almost daily basis (more on this later).  Aided by dozens of helpers, who both submitted material to the site and helped in analyzing suspected data, a triage system of sorts was developed, such that only the most egregious examples were posted. Over the course of 6 months, we documented over 500 problematic images in over 300 publications, amounting to tens of millions of dollars in misappropriated research funds. Most of the grunt work (pulling PDFs, assembling images, writing posts) was done in my spare time, and the website was funded out of my own pocket. For rather obvious reasons (retaliation, personal safety, my own scientific career) it was necessary to run the site anonymously, with most of the work being attributed to a fictitious person, Frances deTriusce (an anagram of science fraudster), who could be reached by a gmail account scifraudster@gmail.com.

He describes some lessons:

1) Naming the site Science Fraud was probably a bad move. Certainly the name ruffled a lot of feathers, since the connotations of the word fraud are clearly damaging.  Something more benign like “questionable-science-images.org” would probably be a better choice.

2) Language choice counts.  If you know me, you know I curse a lot; I’m not the most politically correct individual on the planet, and sometimes my character broke through into the text describing the cases reported on the site. This may have caused offense, and if you were personally offended by the language I used, I formally apologize – it’s all been taken down now.

That being said, the factual data posted on the site remains intact in the scientific literature, and I remain utterly convinced that posting images from publicly available documents, questioning their integrity when there is sufficient evidence to suggest a problem, is in no way grounds for a libel or defamation suit.  In short – don’t shoot the messenger. If you didn’t want your scientific data to be questioned, you shouldn’t have published it!

We have to agree with Brookes’ assessment, for the most part, and learning lessons is always a good thing. But we should also note that the site went beyond simply questioning the integrity of the images; it also accused scientists of wrongdoing and questioned the scientists‘ integrity. Put together with what Brookes acknowledges was offensive language, there are a lot of clear-minded attorneys who would disagree with his conclusion that there is “in no way grounds for a libel or defamation suit.”

Perhaps we’re just used to thinking as journalists whose publications are at risk if we wander too close to the libel line, and some Retraction Watch commenters — mostly anonymous — are happier with Science Fraud’s approach than with ours. Fair enough: As we’ve noted a number of times, Science Fraud’s analyses led to a number of corrections and retractions. But the end doesn’t justify the means, certainly not in court. And a number of commenters seem to agree.

That’s not to say we’re hoping for legal action against Science Fraud; we’d much rather, as I’m sure Brookes would, have everyone find a way to continue appropriately and constructively criticizing the literature. We can be even more sure of that because Brookes pointed out a few authors who “did the right thing” — just as we try to do, when we see clear retraction notices ackowledging error, for example:

They left comments detailing their plan of action, they published corrections, and we made efforts to correct and update posts when this happened. This is how it’s supposed to work – REAL scientists are not afraid to defend their data, and don’t need lawyers to do it for them.

Brookes ends with next steps:

My plan for the coming weeks, is to assemble a coalition of the willing, an assembly of like minded individuals who are sick of the current system.  The new website would have a less inflammatory name, and its authorship would be commonly owned by a group of individuals, all scientists willing to be named, such that no one person could be held personally liable. We would triage and analyze cases in much the same way as currently done on science-fraud.org, with each case being agreed to by at least 3 individuals before posting. As a start, we would re-post much of the material that was recently taken down from science-fraud.org, following this additional peer review. If you’re a scientist and wish to sign on for this endeavor (using your real name), please email me.

He also says he may set up a legal fund.

Updated, 3:30 p.m. Eastern, where asterisk appears, to reflect that Brookes’ post has been taken down from his site.

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Written by Ivan Oransky

January 3, 2013 at 2:13 pm

319 Responses

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  1. Thinking from another perspective there are some important general questions which affect how the legal action against Paul Brookes will work out:
    a) How many people will be suing? Will it be all of those featured on science fraud or just those accused of the most papers with erroneous figures and image manipulations. It is far easier to fight one or two cases rather than 30+. Libel also tends to be a rich man’s game…
    b) What do the people featured on science fraud think of the validity of the accusations against the other scientists featured? If they think they made no mistake/ small ones do they want to be associated with some of the others? They may be more likely to get a prominent apology without going to court rather than getting involved in a bigger fight.
    c) How will the journals respond? How keen will they be to see some of those images used as evidence in court (as they stand), especially if the press are there? If the plaintiffs have their papers retracted, corrected etc before they get to court it is probably going to be problematic . As may already be the case with the Curi retraction…
    d) How will the Universities employing the accused respond? It is quite a big unknown especially if they have to pay for the libel action and depends on what they want to get out of it.
    e) How will the University employing Paul react?
    f) General legal: Do the accused scientists accused count as public rather than private figures in this context, as doesn’t that have an effect on a libel action? Is there also a legal time limit for the libel claims?

    All those questions I think are interconnected.

    On another note I think we all mostly think Paul’s ideas for the future are good. Having a peer reviewed site with less of the judgement is good (but maybe a little dry: I think it needs cartoons like Private Eye in the UK :) ). It will probably get sued anyway but it is a stronger base to start with. I think the atmosphere of the internet (I am surprised no one has been compared to the Nazis on this thread yet…) and the seriousness of the accusations require it (even if we hate it so much when people get ahead by dishonesty). Encouraging the publication of original blots is good too.

    Thank you all for your time.

    Erp

    January 5, 2013 at 10:28 am

    • I would like to agree with the commonsense you make Erp, but I simply cannot.

      Here’s why.

      Fraduster is a scientist, a real one. He found fraud in papers and grants he was asked to review, wrote to the people in charge and they basically told him to take a walk.

      A long walk.

      Fraudster wrote a bit before the science blog started and his frustration with a system that allows fraud and puts patients lives at risk is clear to see.

      I like his views, I want to hear the passion, the frustration, the HONESTY of his blog was very refreshing, and puts real, honest SCIENTISTS in a whole new light.

      They aren’t dull, they aren’t boring, they are passionate, caring, intelligent, focussed and should not be pissed off by science-fraudsters!

      To all the science-fraudsters out there (you know you’re being watched right?): You may be trying to keep the lid on the boiling pot to save your necks, to hide your colleagues fraud, but when the lid comes off, it will explode!!!

      This is only the beginning

      Rock on Science fraud-hunters!!!!

      Look at
      1. http://www.science-fraud.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Curi1.jpg

      Two images that dont immediately look the same – the science fraudsters in question (Curi) have changed the contrast on the upper panel to remove a few of the fainter identifiable objects.

      We have seen this before – anyone know where?

      and

      2. http://www.science-fraud.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Curi5.jpg
      The old-science-frauds blot splicing trick

      The sneaky snakes didnt get away with it, and neither will many others.

      stewart

      January 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm

  2. Peter Bloomberg wrote:
    ‘Stewart, did you get your PhD from a lame 3-year program, like those in the UK, for instance? Either that, or some US no-name college. It shows.’

    All my studies and work are from ‘top’ (I use that word so you will understand it Peter) Universities.

    Imagine the cream at the top of a milk bottle. Go on, imagine it (I know its hard for you to think outside the box, but try, just this once!). Imagine the ‘top’ few percent of Universities in the US or anywhere else…thats where I’ve spent my entire undergraduate, postgraduate and academic life!

    I have to be honest though, there are some right buffoons in the so called ‘top Universties’ (your phrase). I mean, real stupidos!

    And thank you for slagging off the entire UK PhD system! It certainly does need an overhaul, thats for sure.

    I note you have not identified yourself yet ‘Peter Bloomberg’, after saying you would.

    I reiterate – do you have a webspace, or anything else that will verify that you really are ‘Peter Bloomberg’?

    stewart

    January 5, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    • “All my studies and work are from ‘top’ (I use that word so you will understand it Peter) Universities.”
      In short, you do have a PhD from a lame 3-year program, since you are not denying it! Not a shocker.

      Peter Bloomberg

      January 5, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      • Peter Bloomberg

        You wrote that you would identify yourself

        Are you going to or not?

        Did you note when I offered to buy ‘Oxford’ Gold Ale for Fraudster.

        There was a clue there – somewhere!

        stewart

        January 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      • Stewart, Stewart… I’m just trying to figure out a bit where you are coming from. Let’s see, PhD from Oxford, delusional sense of entitlement + dreams of glory, a couple of postdocs in the UK or America. More dreams of glory, eventually clashing with the reality of academic employment and all resulting in major bitterness. Is that the core of it?

        Peter Bloomberg

        January 5, 2013 at 2:00 pm

      • Peter Bloomberg is beginning to grow on. A bit like a rather cheeky shiraz, the first few sips can be a bit overpowering, but then the palate adjusts and you begin to be amused by its presumption.

        So, Mr Bloomberg, how is it that a graduate of such a prestigous and rigorous PhD program such as your own, emerged totally unable to falsify results without resorting to photoshop. Don’t you know how to manipulate loading controls, don’t you know how to spike samples? Why did you get caught so easily?

        Maybe you needed a 10 year doctoral program?

        Fish

        January 5, 2013 at 2:29 pm

  3. Peter Bloomberg wrote ‘Fraudster can defend himself, I’d think. Or perhaps he is doing exactly that.’

    So, now you think I am fraudster!

    Weird! Now you are paranoid Peter Bloomberg (you still have not identified yourself Peter, after saying you would)

    Fraudster is a better man than I. The fact he is ex-Cambridge should not held against him
    :)

    stewart

    January 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    • Anything you say.

      Peter Bloomberg

      January 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      • ‘Peter Bloomberg’, who are you?

        You said you would identify yourself.

        So, do it.

        Tell me Peter, apart from telling others they are fraudster (as you accused me of being), they do not hail from Oxford (and other, just as good Universities in my opinion), defend science fraudsters, have odd views on child abuse, what do you actually do?

        You can’t argue a single point with fact, just rather weird phrases.

        Are you a science-fraudster in disguise ‘Peter’?

        stewart

        January 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm

      • Owner of the Peter Bloomberg handle, identifies himself, talks about next steps
        http://www.omsj.org/about
        Have a nice weekend guys, the Curi retraction was fantastic!

        Junk Science

        January 5, 2013 at 2:59 pm

      • The only things you need to know about me, other than my name (which you have already), are:
        1. I’m not a scientist, I’m a business person with a financial interest in funding certain science sectors
        2. I’m from a hyper-wealthy family, so I work because I enjoy it
        3. I’m posting here only because I’m recovering from a minor illness for a few days (but I’ve been reading this blog for a while, one of many I follow). So, don’t worry, you and your psycho buddies will have your little patch of grass to piss on all for yourself again very soon.

        Peter Bloomberg

        January 5, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      • Junk Science, how do you know this is the right person? Not saying you are wrong, just wanting to know how you know.

        JudyH

        January 5, 2013 at 3:26 pm

  4. Peter Bloomberg wrote ‘Stewart, Stewart… I’m just trying to figure out a bit where you are coming from. Let’s see, PhD from Oxford, delusional sense of entitlement + dreams of glory, a couple of postdocs in the UK or America. More dreams of glory, eventually clashing with the reality of academic employment and all resulting in major bitterness. Is that the core of it?’

    You appear to be bitter Peter.

    I most certainly am not bitter, in fact, my life is far too comfortable for my own good!

    However, I do get genuinely annoyed with people who masquerade as scientists, perptrating science-fraud, that could lead to the deaths of patients in clinical trials.

    I note you have not commentated on the deaths of patients in trials where scien-fraudsters have fiddled the data.

    Do you know there have been several deaths of patients in clinical trials where ‘scientists’ have manipulated the data to cover their own azz?

    I call that murder.

    What do you call it Peter?

    stewart

    January 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    • Nobody is condoning fraudsters and/or incompetent people (not only in science)! Where did you get that idea from? Fraudsters should be prosecuted, once it has been proven by the appropriate bodies that they did indeed commit intentional fraud. In many cases it is obvious, in other cases not to much. I’m not even sure we disagree.
      It is not hard to imagine that medications based on false information could cause harm.

      Peter Bloomberg

      January 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm

  5. Tiddles wrote ‘…I don’t see how millions have been saved as money …..Changed your tune. ….. Patient’s lives?’

    Tiddles, I wasn’t aware the nursery allowed internet access at weekends! Good to see they let you out.

    If you don’t see how there have been millions of dollars saved by exposing science fraud then you need to look more carefully – but this may be hard for a 16 year old kid.

    Are you suggesting there have been no lives lost due to science-fraud, or there have been no cover ups of sciene-fraud after ‘unexpeced deaths’ during clinical trials where patients have died?

    The ignorance in your post in blinding!

    stewart

    January 5, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    • Anonymous Stewart, I’m very sorry to hear that your blinded. Perhaps too much of what mommy warned you about. Your your own weekend internet access perhaps? I wish I was 16 again (perhaps we could date?) but it took me some time to get an H-index of 105 (look it up, what’s yours?). A “faked blot” does not translate to patient care. Tedious.

      Tiddles

      January 5, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      • Genius Tiddles, you’re clearly a genius.

        Can you explain why the small steps in sceince-fraud lead to the big ones?

        You really don’t get it.

        But you don’t want to get it, do you, Tiddles?

        Oh, an academic are you, how quaint.

        Congrajulations – are you the type that walk around the department wearing a ‘science is cool’ T-shirt?

        stewart

        January 5, 2013 at 7:14 pm

      • Tiddles, you seem to be a prime example of what is wrong with science nowadays.

        You write ” I am on the editorial board of 7 journals”. I very much doubt that anyone has the time to do that properly. Do you read the articles that you deal with as editor? Do you critically read the reviews or do you just forward them unread to the authors? Do you make your own decision on whether the article is acceptable (with the help of the obtained reviews) or do you just apply an algorithm to the reviewer recommendations about acceptance/rejection?

        You also write “[I have a ] H-index of 105 (look it up, what’s yours?)”. If you are on a tenure or hiring committee or on a grant panel do you base your decision on the H-index of the person? Are you one of those people who manipulate their H-index by as reviewer “suggesting” that your own publications are referenced? Or do people in your field simply know that they must pay homage to “Tiddles” (on the editorial board of 7 journals) if they want their papers to be published/grants to be awarded?

        People photoshopping western blots are pathetic and one way or another many of them will be caught. Much more dangerous are the H-index obsessed people at the top who can’t count their editorial jobs on the fingers of one hand.

        mathbobby

        January 6, 2013 at 6:40 am

  6. Peter Bloomberg wrote ’2. I’m from a hyper-wealthy family…..’

    Good for you.

    And I hope you recover from your illness soon (seriously).

    I expect you will be donating 1 million dollars to the Science-fraud fund to ensure science fraud does not go undetected.

    stewart

    January 5, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    • I do have that t-shirt as I happen to think Science IS Cool as I’m doing science not whining about what’s wrong with ‘the system’ I can’t prosper in. Illuminati controlled NIH etc bla.

      One more time, although I’m bored. Have you read any letters from these ‘science integrity blogs’ to journal editors and from these websites to the authors of papers where fraud is suspected? No. You cannot comment.

      Tiddles

      January 5, 2013 at 7:37 pm

      • You dont get it Tiddles

        I wrote some of them!

        As I am sure others have done so reading this.

        We actually care about science.

        Real science.

        The non-fraud type of science.

        Do you get it?

        As for not propering in science – why do you think that? – of course I have. But I did it the good old fashioned honest way.

        I don’t tolerate cheats!

        stewart

        January 5, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      • Tiddles, you called me anonymous!

        As you’re keen to promote all real names to be used (as was Peter Bloomberg, who then deciced not to reveal himself) and have a high H-index score, are you going to reveal who you are? It would be good to know. I’d go through a few of your papers too to demonstrate that you are an honest scientist.

        Surely, you lead by example, no?

        Or do you have something to hide, Tiddles?

        stewart

        January 5, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      • What these witch-burners believe in is “suspicion=guilt” and “the truth of falsity is obvious to the illuminati”.

        What they DO NOT BELIEVE In is science. They don’t believe in evidence. They don’t believe in the process of investigation, nor the possibility that simple similarity MAY NOT always indicate the guilt of evil persons.

        This blog illustrates that “scientists” like Stewart are just witch-burning hysterics. I wish I knew who Stewart was, because I would ensure that no paper of his/hers or grant or anything got past me. This “shoot first and let the eternal spirit of science separate the sheep and goats” is not science. It’s medieval witch-hunting.

        And it’s wrong.

        RuefulVictim

        January 5, 2013 at 10:01 pm

      • Put another way, for the witch burners, correlation = causation. It’s almost a textbook case of what science is not.

        RuefulVictim

        January 5, 2013 at 10:16 pm

  7. Stewart – you wrote some of the emails? From your institutional email account? I presume in the same prejudged and poorly spelled manner as above. No further comment needed.

    RW posts retractions after investigations have been carried out. You on the other hand, are willing to anonymously slur the reputations of others and allow this to be on the public record behind the cloak of anonymity and get upset when journal editors don’t play with your ball. You are calling for others to ‘reveal themselves’ yet are unwilling to do this yourself. You are exactly what is wrong with some of these science integrity blogs.

    Playground insults, milk and cookie comments etc etc bla bla and you want to be taken seriously? Anyone disagreeing with you must have a hidden agenda or provide their own intimate contact details and publications for you to comb over and ‘judge’ (as you clearly have nothing better to do like a productive job) for your own version of what makes a clinician or scientist ‘honest.

    Provide me HERE with your institutional email address and I will send you all of my publications to which your institution has paid access to (otherwise copyright infringement) and a full professional resume. Nothing to hide – have you?

    I probably shouldn’t have stooped to your level in a couple of my posts so I’d like to apologize to you and others here for those reading these comments.

    Since I mentioned copyright above, does reproducing images from copyrighted journal articles on blogs without permission of either the journal or author constitute copyright infringement? They may well be on the public record but the copyright for reproduction and modification etc is with the journal and/or author. Many manuscripts will require journal subscriptions for access.This has been ignored and something that if people are to scrutinize published and even open access papers should be consider.

    Quaint academic.

    Tiddles

    January 6, 2013 at 5:43 am

    • I have to say Tiddles started out rather well. He fully had me going that he was on the editorial board of however many journals and his remarks – which I did not agree with – did not seem unreasonable. I was wrong, Tiddles appears to be a rather more sophisticated troll but with similar intent to PB and R Victim.

      I guss this initial comment should have been a giveaway:
      ” was wondering if any of you had seen any of the emails sent to authors from websites such as these? Professional is not something I would use. Profane, vulgar and vociferous I would also use.”
      And the more he posted the more his mask slipped.

      “Provide me HERE with your institutional email address and I will send you all of my publications to which your institution has paid access to (otherwise copyright infringement) and a full professional resume.”

      mmmmmmmm

      “Since I mentioned copyright above, does reproducing images from copyrighted journal articles on blogs without permission of either the journal or author constitute copyright infringement?”

      Happy to help out on that one, Tiddles old chum. No it does not.

      Fish

      January 6, 2013 at 6:09 am

      • Actually, it does. The fact that it is not enforced, usually, is irrelevant. You need written permission from the publisher before you do that, pal.

        Peter Bloomberg

        January 6, 2013 at 6:59 am

      • There are exceptions to copyright protections.

        This falls under one of them.

        Fish

        January 6, 2013 at 7:06 am

      • Fish is correct. The “fair use” exception allows reproduction of small amounts of copyrighted material for criticism, commentary, news reporting, research, teaching, and scholarship.

        JudyH

        January 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    • Tiddles wrote ‘I probably shouldn’t have stooped to your level in a couple of my posts so I’d like to apologize to you and others here for those reading these comments.’

      Tiddles, my dear fellow, you have your facts mixed up.

      ‘Twas you who first posted about me, then I responded to you. Do you recall?

      As for stoopping to my level…again, in your VERY first post regarding myself – you were insulting. I merely responded to you – you then went on to blah blah how you have an H-index of a trillion – OK..then prove it..Who are you Tiddles?

      Post your details HERE.

      Afterall, it was you who wishes all to reveal who we are. I am sugesting YOU lead by example.

      I know you wont, you know you won’t. Prove me wrong Tiddles.

      Stick to the facts please.

      Aha, you wish others to reveal themselves and you not to. The old magicians trick!

      As for my insitutional account – are you ready to send 1000 email to all the relevant members of my insitution just like the miscreants did to Fraudster?

      I think you are

      I reiterate ‘Tiddles’ your advice was very very dangerous.

      I stand by that.

      Your post above reads with disdain. I am indeed wondering whether you have been ‘outed’ by the science fraud blog.

      stewart

      January 6, 2013 at 6:15 am

      • It is pretty clear that Tiddles is just the shadow personality of stewart’s split personality! Well done, stewart.

        Peter Bloomberg

        January 6, 2013 at 6:56 am

    • “Provide me HERE with your institutional email address and I will send you all of my publications to which your institution has paid access to (otherwise copyright infringement) and a full professional resume. Nothing to hide – have you?”

      Just to be clear, it isn’t copyright infringement to share reprints of your published manuscripts with other academics, regardless of whether or not they or their institution subscribes to the journal in question. Members of an editorial board should certainly know this.

      Noah

      January 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm

  8. RuefulVictim (or is is RuefulActor?)

    Wrote ‘And it’s wrong.’

    That’s Two IDs, which you are intermingling!

    Well, the only thing normal people know is that fraud is wrong. Science fraud being one of those catagories.

    You don’t seem to get that. Peoples lives are at stake.

    As for the facts, they are clear for all who have read this thread to see.

    Kumar……wow…he’s a fraud. Aggarwal?

    Anyone else?

    When the science-fraudster-miscreants found out who the owner of the science fraud blog was they thought all their dremas had come tture.

    And they would shoot him down.

    Well, it is going to be their worse nightmare!

    I found another whole host of science image/data manipulations last night of a new group mentioned on the blog as a collaborator of a know science fraudster – it is going to be a very interesting, and profitable, 2013!

    stewart

    January 6, 2013 at 6:22 am

    • Did you sleep well, stewart? Your spelling is not too good this morning! Ah wait, you stayed up all night hallucinating :)

      Peter Bloomberg

      January 6, 2013 at 7:23 am

      • Peter: Stewart is in Britain. An endless diet of fishnchips has rotted the sense out of him/her.

        RuefulVictim

        January 6, 2013 at 2:34 pm

  9. To Scutineer

    Thank you also for your trainwreck of the Potti case, it was very informative.

    As for the methods used in that paper…anyone with even the smallest experience of those methods would simply freak out and scream ‘impossible’ if they saw the data as presented.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.21978/pdf

    We do need a place to discuss this stuff and the science fraud blog was invaluable. I also beleive RetractionWatch to be invaluable.

    By the way, I thought I was an expert at spotting splicing, but figure 1…I didn’t see it, I still can’t, even though the first two GAPDH bands are indeed duplicates of the last two.

    Anyone who wishes to check that themselves – copy the GAPDH bands in figure 1 into power point, enlarge them by 400% then see there are marks identical in the first two bands and the last two bands – clear bands re-use – though the contrast has been altered slightly so some marking may be brighter than others.

    This 100% invalidates the quantitation of the bands, shown below the images, the results and the question remains – if they have done that fraud, can we believe anything in the paper?

    Some fraudsters are good, perhaps too good for their own sake!

    stewart

    January 6, 2013 at 7:03 am

    • You raise the issue of how many splices are disguised to the point of being invisible? It would be alarming if this were to be the majority but why wouldn’t it be? To leave the splices visible indicates a low level of photoshopping competence. There again so does leaving the same blemishes around as in the train wreck figure.

      However, someone quoted Scott’s quote on one of the recent blog entries

      Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive!

      Even a competent image manipulator may end up giving themselves away. Presumably many fraudsters keep notebooks that describe the official experiment, not the fake one they actually did. They also cut and paste arbitrary bits of gels, blots and other images but they are not going to keep notes of this as it would be incriminating. After some time, it is going to be impossible to remember what was what. Perhaps this is one reason why image details often get reused in different papers and sometimes in different figures in the same papers. Other reasons may be time pressure, laziness, budget restrictions.

      Despite the worst efforts of the trolls and sockpuppets, I am beginning to think that the internet will shine a bright light on the dark underbelly of biological research and that this will eventually lead to real improvement. Looking forward to seeing your findings from last night presented in due course.

      Scrutineer

      January 6, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      • As has been pointed out elsewhere on this blog, when it comes to western blots, doctoring the samples to achieve desired changes in relative intensities of loading controls and experimental bands is the way to go if you want to avoid having to use photoshop to fiddle your results. This would of course involve significantly more work to the point that it might even become simpler to actually do the experiments in an honest way and see what happens….

        Scotus

        January 6, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      • Agreed Scrutineer, we all wish to see an improvement over the current system for the benefit of us all.

        And apologies to all if I allowed my passion for science to get a bit heated with Peter and Rueful.

        Stewart

        January 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm

  10. Peter Bloomberg wrote ‘Actually, it does. The fact that it is not enforced, usually, is irrelevant. You need written permission from the publisher before you do that, pal.’

    For a non-scientist, Peter, with scientist parents, hanger around of drunk ‘top’ scientists, from a hyperwealthy family – you sure do bother yourself with details about science publishing.

    I don’t believe a single word you write.

    You wrote you would identify yourself, yet, aggressively calling others to do so.

    You have yet provided not one shred of proof of who you are. You told a pork pie Peter.

    Prove me wrong.

    So, who is this self-proclaimed science investor, hyperwealthy, with scientist parents and hanger around of drunken scientist friends ‘peter bloomberg’?

    Don’t worry peter we would not email 100 of your colleagues like the miscreants who have been shown to be fradulent did to Paul.

    Did you offer to invest 1 million dollars in the new science fraud venture yet – after all, what’s a million dollars to a hyper-wealthy individual such as yourself?

    stewart

    January 6, 2013 at 7:15 am

    • Don’t worry stewart, if I can make 2 millions by investing one, I’ll be the first to go for it. Do you think my family is wealthy because they gave away money to losing causes?

      Peter Bloomberg

      January 6, 2013 at 7:53 am

  11. Tiddles

    Read this and shake! Now do you see Tiddles?

    ‘The victims all have the same experience: coming to Duke desperately ill with cancer, being given hope by Potti, and finding out his treatment theories were fraudulent.

    The victims were enrolled in clinical trials — experiments on human beings — for which Potti obtained their “informed consent.” If the trials had been authentic and yielded a test to reveal to doctors how to target specific cancers in each individual, Potti and Duke stood to make billions — billions — from world-wide licensing of the test.
    As it turned out, Potti just phonied up the data to yield the conclusions he wanted. And Duke conceded letting Potti do his experiments — despite many warnings that his data was screwed up — was a major “mistake.”’

    Source: http://dukecheck.com/?p=7338
    (ripped from Scrutineer)

    Interesting to note Raleigh law firm Henson, Fuerst took the case.

    Will there be others?

    stewart

    January 6, 2013 at 7:28 am

    • Geezus, what an ignoramus. SF and Potti are entirely unrelated. Why do you persist in your monomaniacal attempts to muddy the waters and keep these statements up?

      No one here denies that scientific fraud is present, a problem, and must be eliminated. The issues are HOW to do this, in a fair manner.

      It is also important to avoid the perception that a person is a hysterical ninny. Read “Chicken Little”. Foxy-Loxy now has Stewart-Blowhard in the story as well.

      RuefulVictim

      January 6, 2013 at 1:48 pm

  12. Sadly this thread gets further and further from the point.

    I do not believe Paul Brookes will be sued and those who suggest it are scaremongers. Private lawyers might try to intimidate someone (indeed that has clearly worked here) but institutions would be committing suicide if they went after a lone fraud-poster after fraud in their own institution.

    My understanding is that the vast majority of SF posts reflected clear misconduct (image fraud) by authors. The last thing those who committed such fraud, and their institutions, want to do is call in lawyers and try to sue someone – it will expose their whole game for what it was in the most public way imaginable and make them look like bullies to boot. Relatively few people actually read SF and its contents were probably completely ignored by institutions and journals. Going to a law court puts you in a newspaper which is a different level of exposure altogether.

    For the small number of cases where there was a genuine ‘mistake’, not ‘fraud’, the same applies – the lab will want to forget about it rather than inflame the situation.

    Look at the Gopal Kundu case in JBC – the top brass of Indian scientists protested against JBC’s retraction and what actually happened? Nothing. Has a university or scientist ever succeeded in suing the person who pointed out their fraud, or a body that acted on it? Never, to my knowledge.

    amw

    January 6, 2013 at 10:31 am

    • You may be right. However, the problem is that if an entity with deep pockets decides to sue the average guy, and the case is not obviously frivolous, then this average guy’s life is pretty much over, while this goes on. And with litigation, you never know how it ends. There are plenty of crazies out there. After all, Brookes was worried about his own personal safety.

      Peter Bloomberg

      January 6, 2013 at 10:49 am

      • Another one bites the dust:
        ‘In a voluntary deal disclosed late last month, Elton agreed to retract five articles; a sixth had been retracted in April. An OSU spokesman said a total of $1.6 million in grant money was associated with the retracted papers, though he said that money went toward broader projects, not just the retracted papers.Elton has published at least 66 peer-reviewed articles during the course of his career, The Dispatch found’
        Souce: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/01/06/probe-by-osu-missed-fraud.html

        As for Peter Bloombergs childish view on the safety concerns for science-fraud whistleblowers:
        ‘I have also narrowly escaped from an attack with pepper spray and a hammer.’

        Source: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/new_scientist/2012/11/maddox_prize_2012_shi_min_fang_wins_award_for_exposing_scientific_fraud.html

        The science-fraudsters are clearly mentally imbalanced individuals.

        stewart

        January 6, 2013 at 11:32 am

      • ‘‘I have also narrowly escaped from an attack with pepper spray and a hammer.’”
        1. That is China.
        2. There is no way to verify the truth of the statement.
        Mr stewart, I’m not sure you are in a position to make comments about mental imbalance yourself.

        Peter Bloomberg

        January 6, 2013 at 11:41 am

      • Having read this thread I am disappointed at the tone of some of the various comments. Just because someone disagrees with you does not merit accusations that they commit fraud and are defending fraud, or that they are stupid. Everyone agrees that fraud is bad from both a moral standpoint but also because it can do real harm, potentially in the cases pointed out in clinical trials, but also because it is tantamount to theft of public funds and is the antithesis of science. It damages the public’s view of science and therefore harms all of us scientists who are trying to do something positive for society, not to mention harming society itself. There is no excuse for any of that and I believe everyone agrees on this. But I do object to the tone and the derisive comments on this blog and the questioning of people’s integrity when they disagree. I think that Bloomberg, Tiddles and Rueful actor have some legitimate points and none of them seem to be advocating fraud. Please, lets treat each other with respect. We are actually all on the same side in this.

        However, I do think there is a legitimate concern about what SF does and does not do that is worthy of open discussion. It is a forum for pointing out irregularities in scientific publications, some of which are very likely to be a result of intentional fabrication and misuse of data, and some that are probably not. It is not a forum for determining fraud, that can only be done properly by a body with access to the actual data with the power and means to pass judgement such as an ORI or NIH. Therein lies the problem. The site should not be called science fraud because it implies there has been a determination of fraud, as if it is the arbiter (or worse, the many people who comment anonymously on the posts). Instead it should be called something closer to Zwirner’s Abnormal Science, or Irregularities in Science or something in that vein. It would accomplish the same goals which is to bring attention to problems in the literature without the appearance of passing judgement of fraud. Paul Brooks admits to as much above. Changing the name to something much less sensational would address an important deficiency in the site and would also probably protect Paul and colleagues from legal issues. I am sure he has honorable intentions, but putting the posts to a group of scientists for approval by a group of scientists as he notes, would free him from the criticism that he is selectively and maliciously attacking people he does not like, propagating a vendetta of some sort. Another point is that other similar blogs like Abnormal Science or Retraction Watch are not run anonymously, which is also a move toward accountability and legitimacy. In the future, now that Paul has been outed, he would be best served by making public the names of people he gets to help his next website on this topic. They are doing a public service at some level and should not be hidden so as to feed the conspiracy types out there.

        Now, if RW and SF would just insist that people who comment on the posts use their real names, I suspect there would be a much higher level of civil discourse on the sites, but that is wishful thinking…….

        Happy New Years Everyone!

        Jane's Addiction

        January 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    • amw, I agree with you. In my opinion, the letter Paul Brookes received was an attempt to intimidate, to achieve the objective without going to court, because going to court would bring unwanted publicity. Nowhere in the letter does the writer state that the allegations of fraud on SF were false. The writer says the allegations have damaged reputations, have resulted in suspension of funds from granting agencies, and have caused publishers to question manuscripts and perhaps retract some. A crucial factor is missing. The writer does not say that what was posted on SF was false. It is perfectly legal to damage someone’s reputation if the damaging accusations are true.

      Although the current situation with SF is unpleasant, I think the site will return and will be better as a result of improvements intended to prevent future unpleasantness of this type.

      JudyH

      January 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    • Stewart had already hyperlinked on January 3rd, 2013 to two webpages about the exposed fraudster Richard Eastell in Sheffield. One of those webpages was about a whistleblower (Dr. Blumsohn) whose life Richard Eastell did not manage to ruin. The other of those webpages was about one of a number of whistleblowers who Richard Eastell has managed to harm after Dr. Blumsohn won but the so-called University of Sheffield continued to protect the bully Richard Eastell.

      Another victim who was forced to leave the so-called University of Sheffield after mentioning that a claim by Richard Eastell was unreliable is called Stuart Macdonald:

      Paul Jump, “Found guilty until proven innocent over unapproved research claims”, October 25th, 2012,
      http://WWW.TimesHigherEducation.co.UK/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=421600&c=1

      So-called universities and so-called scientists managed to sue whistleblowers who were in the right.

      One example was victimization by so-called Professor Robert Carnahan and by Noreen Segrest of the so-called University of South Florida resulting in the unjust imprisonment of Peter Taborsky for so-called theft (of what Taborsky owned: it is impossible for one to steal from oneself!):
      William Dowell, “Intellectual Chain Gang”, “Time”, February 10th, 1997, Page 64.

      Also see
      http://home.online.NL/elmrabat/
      re Benyounes Elmrabat.

      Also, many other examples exist.

      Paul Colin de Gloucester

      January 11, 2013 at 2:32 pm

  13. Peter, you have been caught by science-fraud hunters haven’t you :)

    stewart

    January 6, 2013 at 11:43 am

    • Your false allegations and scurrilous statements ensure that all hold you in contempt.

      RuefulVictim

      January 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm

  14. There are two approaches to a suspicious issue, in law, in research, and in life.

    1) Some shoot first and ask questions later, constituting THEMSELVES to be judge, jury, and executioner. For these, better 10 innocent person be killed to ensure that 1 guilty person be also killed.

    2) Some insist on a fair process, which ensures that false accusations are properly investigated but fairly resolved.

    A process to investigate, fairly determine the facts when suspicion arises is important. However, a false accusation is not neutral – a false accusation hurts the accused, especially if the accuser can be anonymous. The process must be a fair one, but cannot be done in public, as SF was doing.

    But for some of the more hysterical posters here, I do not agree that a simple superficial resemblance is sufficient for the death penalty. And, in response to Stewart, my statement does not mean that I am a fraudster. It means that I require a scientific approach to science fraud.

    RuefulVictim

    January 6, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    • I hold with Ben Franklin (among many many others), who stated “it is better one hundred guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer”. False accusations are not acceptable, and false accusations in public on the internet are doubly problematic.

      RuefulVictim

      January 6, 2013 at 1:56 pm

      • RuefulVictim, aka RuefulActor, aka RuefulDumbo – Ben Franklin you say!

        How dare you, sir!

        Remember those brave long-dead souls who fought the British Empire who were called traitors and put to death?

        They mounted insurrections again and again. They broke THE LAW.

        The system was broken. Thank God they fixed it!

        They were the forefathers of the United Stated of Amercia,

        Don’t use others greatness to buffer your weak points and falseness, God damn it!

        Stewart

        January 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      • Rueful – There were no false accusations on Science- Fraud – they were all true!

        Every single error pointed out was real.

        Stewart

        January 6, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    • RuefulVictim (or is it RufulActor?) – you switched names again posting here!

      I doubt you’d know what science is if it came and punched you in the face!

      The entire meaning of Science-Fraud was to out fraudsters – and it did it

      Rather well too.

      Stewart

      January 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm

  15. I’ve just sent this message to a number of commenters:

    “Thanks for the spirited discussion on Retraction Watch. There are legitimate questions about how alleged fraud should be handled. The content and tone of some comments has, however, degenerated into name-calling and personal attacks, and that’s neither useful nor what we’re trying to accomplish with Retraction Watch. We won’t tolerate more, and will be moderating comments much more closely from here on in.”

    ["denigrated" edited to "degenerated, thanks to "puzzled monkey" and "RW fan" for the correction.]

    ivanoransky

    January 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm

  16. Thanks Ivan, that helps a lot. Hopefully people will take a deep breath and return to the level of civility an honest discussion requires.

    Jane's Addiction

    January 6, 2013 at 5:46 pm

  17. Fraudsters Science-fraud blog is certainly drawing alot of attention to ‘sciece-fraud’

    http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2013/01/fraudster-blog-author-outed-and-.html#disqus_thread

    Its international, as it should be.

    Stewart

    January 6, 2013 at 6:00 pm

  18. Waiting for new website of Science-fraud!!

    cebolla

    January 7, 2013 at 1:34 pm

  19. Fraudster has deleted the only left post on science fraud! What is happening? someone knows?

    Frederic

    January 8, 2013 at 5:09 am

    • He said to Estado de São Paulo that he is suffering legal impeachment, suggested by his lawyer.

      Justice will prevail

      January 8, 2013 at 12:50 pm

  20. In an ideal world there would be no need for such blogs or anonymity as scientists would be drawn to their profession by their desire to know ‘how’/ ‘why’ but we all know that we do not live in an ideal world – some of us already know everything and they just need some graphs/ tables to show the world what they know. Let’s hope that the blog will be back minus the mistakes that were made this time though I do doubt if some of our colleagues (the ones who already know everything) would even be willing to let their questionable data be publicly pointed out even without any additional comments from the blogger.

    Paul Brookes showed great courage in outing some of the papers with incorrect and/ or falsified data. The language might have been an issue but I doubt if we can question his intent. There is the John Maddox Prize that will be given annually- “The prize is open to nominations for any kind of public activity, including all forms of writing, speaking and public engagement, in any of the following areas: 1.Addressing misleading information about scientific or medical issues in any forum.” The details for 2013 will become available later on http://www.senseaboutscience.org. In my opinion he deserves to be nominated for bringing out questionable data in so many papers.

    WB

    January 8, 2013 at 7:44 am

    • Quite right.

      fernando pessoa

      January 8, 2013 at 8:26 am

    • Good idea. Let’s do it.

      JudyH

      January 8, 2013 at 8:44 am

    • agreed!

      Hibby

      January 8, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    • WB: Paul Brookes deserves the bloody Nobel prize for this stuff.

      Lives = saved
      100s millions of tax payers dollars = saved
      Researchers time = saved
      Benefit to society = immeasurable
      Public and political confidence in science = restored

      I echo your comment “Paul Brookes showed great courage”, I would only add his employer should be well aware that they have a genius in their midst!

      Stewart

      January 8, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    • Agreed! Lets fucking do it!

      Frederic

      January 13, 2013 at 1:22 am

    • Has someone done somehting about it? Come on!

      Frederic

      January 13, 2013 at 1:23 am

  21. I have just learnt about this story and it is fascinating. At the outset, I wish to state that I am a scientist, and have extensive experience in biotechnology, molecular biology and basic sciences. I am also of the opinion that it is good to be able to use a pseudonym on blogs like this because it gives us the liberty to share openly, honestly and freely. However, I do agree with Jane’s Addiction above that there needs to be a certain amount of civility and respect in the discourse, otherwise what we say will not be taken seriously. A web-site is an upgrade, a considerably larger one, than just a blog. Where Paul made a serious mistake was he used a false name and gender. When you create a blog or web-site, do not fear to show your true identity if you created it with conviction. People like to follow real people, not ghosts or fictitious characters. A blog, by definition, is an electronic public forum, a place for opinions to be shared, and so even though we may all disagree, we have the right to say what we please. A website, such as science-fraud.org was extremely important because there is currently no watchdog on an international scale that can handle deviant science. Fraud, if we look at the root of the word, is an intentional means to trick sand mislead. Where lawyers and attorneys try to make a case from it (I think they are all a bunch of sharks anyway) is to try and prove the fact that there was no intent. Since intent stems from the heart, no-one will ever truly know, so libel cases are really dodgy (in my opinion). However, evidence or proof, in a haad-core format, of a crime, of a trick or of a manipulation is VALID in my opnion. So, we have to ask, why was Paul Brookes literally hunted down and forced to shut down the show. He is not Julian Assange, but the root causes for his fear are identical. In science, a basal pillar of society, and science publishing, as a product of that effort, are a billion-dollar industry, and the protection of its worth lies only at the top. Of course, scientists are always scape-goated, and whistleblowers and those who tell the truth are always the victims for one simple reason: what is taking place right now, spear-headed by the top science publishers, Thomson Reuters, and even pseudo-ethical bodies such as COPE, and the newest plague, iThenticate, is the commercialization of crime in science. A new elitist cult has developed and if you don’t believe in conspiracy theories, then you had better start believing now. 20+ years in science and an intense 7+ in the publishing industry and science publishing have shown me that this is a shark eat shark business and the scientists is fed the scraps. We are only respected in so much as we are the base of their business. Everything revolves around us, yet scientists are blamed, labelled, chased and persecuted like a return to the Dark Ages. I think it is time we support Paul, and that we all become Pauls because the chain of command has been turned on its head. The pramid of life in science has placed us, the scientists, right at te bottom, where we are predated upon without mercy, made to look stupid and left for the vultures. It is time for the Science Spring. A revolution of sorts, not against each other, but against the root problems in science, must take place. The powers that control science, whether these be Reed-Elsevier, THomson Reuters, Springer, and others, who believe that they can dictate what are thics, what are values, how science should be conducted and traded, MUST stop. Unless boycotts are establshed, unless scientists stop turning on scientists and trun on the REAL criminals, then these blogs will look like mud-fights between bra-less women, all the laughing stock and pleasure of those who hold the reigns of power. We all have a responsibility greater than to ourselves. We have a responsibility towards science, and its integrity. Don’t look towards those who peddle our work for answers, or for morality. They are bleeding us dry! Look towards your hearts and make a pro-active choice today. 2013 is a decisive year. Those who believe in astrology had better read the stars and planets. Major revolution is coming. And either we stand firm against the fraud, the crime, the lies and the veils, r we get squashed, or driven into slavery, not unlike the current economic slavery being imposed upon us by the New World Order. Wake up people, RT-PCR bands are the surface. You’ve got to start scratching deeper, forming coalitions, speaking out, forming local, regional and international watchdogs, decentralize, and PUBLISH. Publish your stories, do not simply create blogs. Blogs die, fade out. but formal publications, as case studies, remain as a historical document forever. “I’ll be back”. Look out for a new movement soon… LIberate Science.

    Robin Hood

    January 8, 2013 at 8:01 pm

    • Robin Hood – your posts criticises the anonymity of Paul Brookes, and moreso, his right to cast a doubt to his age, sex etc…..to take any suspicious minds off who it may be behind the science-fraud blog.

      It has been demonstrated, very clearly, over the last week, the nasty, horrid actions of, and the vile capabilitise these science-fraudsters will do – email the guys bosses with a bunch of lies – a blatant attempt at intimidation, harrassment, and bullying – tactics science-frauds use to keep their fraud quiet!

      You wrote ‘Where Paul made a serious mistake was he used a false name and gender’

      Pauls stance, therefore, was justified, by the very putrid cretins he outed as science-frauds!

      You wrote ‘I wish to state that I am a scientist, and have extensive experience in biotechnology, molecular biology and basic sciences’

      and

      ‘Those who believe in astrology had better read the stars and planets’

      The shoe dont fit, matey!

      Kumar and his science-fraud buddies will not win!

      Stewart

      January 9, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    • Some jurists including lawyers are good.

      Paul Colin de Gloucester

      January 11, 2013 at 2:37 pm

  22. Reblogged this on CuriosoRealistae comentado:
    Proprietário do site Sciencefraud, suspenso por ameaças legais, identifica-se, fala sobre os próximos passos.

    Curioso Realista

    January 9, 2013 at 9:07 am

  23. Hans Müller

    January 9, 2013 at 10:17 am

    • Thanks for the link. The idea of an “Association for Anonymous Post‐Publication Peer Review” looks fine. Indeed, any reliable proposal allowing the extension of the work initiated by P. Brookes will be, for sure, appreciated by most of us.

      Sylvain Bernès

      January 9, 2013 at 10:58 am

      • excellent article! Indeed I had proposed something like a whistleblower association in this blog months ago, however no one cared. Constant reviewing and dedicated watchdogs are the best for scientific development today — I would certainly join in.

        Hibby

        January 9, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      • Also see the statement from Paul Brookes newly been uploaded below this article. In my opinion, very interesting and constructive approach. The idea of providing a peer-review system regarding, let’s just say, suspicious published data seems to get more specific. Part of the statemtent cited from Dr Brookes regarding AAPPR:

        “In this regard, a proposal is currently being drafted to establish a non‐profit foundation, the association for anonymous post‐publication peer review (AAPPR). Its structure is evolving, but key concepts include: (i) common ownership and authorship by a group of named scientists, (ii) a set of guidelines and by‐laws to ensure democratic analysis of submitted papers, and an elected management structure, (iii) no assignment of motive or blame regarding the origin of questioned data, (iv) attention to issues of free speech, and secure communication among members. At this early stage we have over 30 scientists interested, and input is welcomed from any scientist interested in signing on as a charter member or with ideas to share (psbrookes@aappr.org). Despite this recent setback, I’m eager to push forward with the next step in anonymous PPPR.” — Paul Brookes

        from source:
        http://www.forbes.com/sites/billfrezza/2013/01/09/a-barrage-of-legal-threats-shuts-down-whistleblower-site-science-fraud/

        @ Ivan. Could this be worth an updated post on RW?

        Hans Müller

        January 9, 2013 at 2:49 pm

      • Maybe Dr Brookes would be elligible to seek the assistance of the international foundation named “Scholars at Risk”? http://scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu/

        They seem quite helpful, and they are dedicated to provide freedom of speech to academics worldwide. I think this organisation is of the interest of many readers here.

        Fox

        January 10, 2013 at 12:37 pm

        • Thats a superb suggestion Fox.

          But lets all do it, rather than just Brookes…he cant handle the pressure of all the science-fraud by himself…..though he will no doubt give it a go :)

          I guess thats why most of us are determined to out any science-fradusters – with evidence and facts – and it is good to know there is help out there for honest scientists of integrity.

          The defence used by the alleged fraudsters from Science-fraud was to email they guys bosses – it is for others to decide whether this was the actions of bullies and cowards.

          Some may interpret that as attempted intimidation and bullying.

          We should never submit to bullies.

          Stewart

          January 17, 2013 at 4:12 pm

      • For some open access journals, that is already available. However, nobody seems to comments on the papers after they are published. Certainly, authors do not respond to the few comments that are posted.

        Average PI

        January 12, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    • I know my entry is going to ruffle alot of feathers, but I see something really wrong with this whole “Anonymous” movement. Why should we, honest scientists, always have to live in the shadows of the fraudsters? It seems like everyone on this blog is either afraid of retaliation from the fraudsters or from lawyers! It’s insane to sit back and read the comments on this blog. Basically, the way I see it is that you are trying to tackle fraud in the US, the UK, possibly even Australia, where there are strong legal systems and where associations like ROI can provide some sort of robust support. But what about the other 190+ countries around the world? This is one of the the true serious problems. How can fraud be reigned in there? You see, try to imagine you find a fraudulent paper in a tier-1 journal like PNAS, or even an OA journal like PLoS One. OK, kudos for ridding the devil there. But please take a look at one of these two sites at the end of my blog post and tell me, how do we deal with this plague? Basically, these OA journals allow anything and everything to be published. Indeed, most tier-1 journal authors will not likely reference these papers, but the “middle class” of science, which is that big fat, bulky 75%+ of scientists, will likely reference this type of article in their paper, simply because a Yahoo or Google search would reveal a hit. This “middle class” basically is suporting the fraud on a daily basis by referencing fraudulent papers which can lend up even in tier-1 journals. So, while you are after the fraudsters in the creme-de-la-creme of the acadmis society, which I agree also needs to be caught, exposed and removed, the greatest plague lies in 190+ countries… an almost return to pharaoic biblical times… Examples include:
      http://www.aensiweb.com/journals.html (some journals indexed by Thomson Reuters + Scopus) e.g.:
      http://www.aensiweb.com/aeb/2012/2590-2596.pdf (tell me, how can this trash be supported by Elsevier + Thomson Reuters?)
      Another one: http://www.mehtapress.com/journals/journals-by-alphabetically.html
      What I am basically trying to say is that while you are fighting the thick cream on the milk, a deeply corrupt under-froth is developing, a brian child of Soros…

      Robin Hood

      January 10, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      • Robin Hood

        The reason why whistleblowers should always remain anonymous was demonstrated by the miscreants who emailed Fraudsters employers.

        Imagine you are a senior academic, lets say, in cancer research, and you accuse someone in your department of science-fraud. What is your next move?

        If you do it officially – you know there would be a real problem with your Dean – he’d come down on you like a tonne of bricks if he found out. And the fraudster – perhaps.

        Lets say you accused a head of dept of allowing the fraud – you’d be finished. You know that, and you’re not dumb. You would pick your target – regardless the likelyhood is that you would indeed be finished.

        Lets say you accused a junior lab mamber of the fraud. You may want the head of dept/School on your side – a sure way to ruin someones career, but also risking your own. And possibly staining the head of dept reputation too – something you will not be thanked for.

        So, accusing is not the same as proving fraud – that we agree. It is risky either way.

        But…and this is where anonymity is VERY important – if you accuse someone, with EVIDENCE – of science fraud – then you have a case – if not, then it is harrassment and bullying.

        We are not suggesting anyone harrasses anyone – just demonstrates science fraud.

        Doing it anonymously protects you, and will quickly let any investigation quash accusations without evidence.

        All accusations of science-fraud MUST be EVIDENCE-based.

        Stewart

        January 10, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      • Whistleblowers in the United States of America are rarely sufficiently protected by enforcement of laws. For example, check what happened to a whistleblower who exposed the fraudster Lingxun Duan at Jefferson.

        Whistleblowers in the United Kingdom also become victims: examples include people who whistleblew against Richard Eastell, as already mentioned on this blog.

        Australia is also not a paradise for whistleblowers. For example: “Evidence of scientific fraud presented to NSW court”
        http://WWW.ABC.net.au/pm/content/2003/s876639.htm

        Tripe was published in “The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America” (and retracted) before open-access journals exitsed, for example:

        http://WWW.Albany.edu/~scifraud/scilog/scilog96_page5.html

        As for baloney from the then President of the National Academy of Sciences, read a book by Nicholas Wade and Bill Broad called “Betrayers of the Truth”.

        Paul Colin de Gloucester

        January 11, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      • I agree. Last year I and two other reviewers rejected a crappy paper in a second-tier journal. Eight months later the same crappy paper was published in a third-tier journal. I am now reviewing another crappy paper for a third-tier journal. Are there any criteria for rejecting papers these days??

        Rosie

        January 13, 2013 at 10:15 am

        • Are second and third tier Journals defined somewhere? For instance is JBC 2nd or 3rd tier?

          Toby

          January 15, 2013 at 11:44 am

          • A first-tier journal is a journal in which I publish. A second-tier journal is a journal in which my competitor publishes. It holds true even if both my competitor and I publish in the same journal.

            chirality

            January 15, 2013 at 12:02 pm

      • Rosie, I’m not sure I follow the connection…

        Average PI

        January 13, 2013 at 11:11 am

  24. There’s an article about SF and Paul Brookes in the current issue of Science:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/339/6116/132.full

    visitor

    January 11, 2013 at 1:30 am

  25. Average PI wrote “For some open access journals, that is already available. However, nobody seems to comments on the papers after they are published. Certainly, authors do not respond to the few comments that are posted.”

    Are you suggesting a technician or a postdoc in a lab should log into their account, with full identifiable details, and mention that there may have been fraud committed in that study?

    They would get dismissed, fired…..alomost immediately.

    Stewart

    January 13, 2013 at 5:56 am

  26. I am not of the scientific community, but I did read the blog and there were several times that the science-fraud blog had made errors in their fraud claims, and then didn’t remove the posts that made the claims of fraud. This is completely irresponsible, at best. I know some of you don’t want to remember this, but the one that comes to mind (sorry can’t link it -it’s been removed) is the allegation that someone used a photo of a bird’s nest in a field twice and this was fraud of research. They posted this allegation BEFORE reaching out to the alleged offender/researcher and then waited for their reply on the allegations with the fraud charges sitting online for the world to read. When the allegations were proven false, the blog with the allegations remained up–and in a tiny section of comments the corrected data and proof of the veracity of research was hidden in fine print. This made both the site and the alleged fraudster look bad. It made the site look bad because it was obviously irresponsible to keep it up and not to have sought out clarification before making accusations. It made the researcher look bad, because you had to read the fine print to know this had been determined to be a false accusation.

    You all seem to think everyone will ignore you if you don’t scream it at the top of your lungs on the world wide web, but isn’t research about proving points in science? Each study deliberates -supports or disproves previous research. That is at the core of research methodology. Science requires deliberation over and over and over- to support research. There have been many times research has disproven previous findings in research-and yet, no one yelled fraud-they used peer reviewed study to prove their truth-that is the method of Science. Science is always seeking truth-and truth is meant to be proven over and over.

    kc

    February 12, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    • Can you give a link to the data in question?

      The problem about reaching out is simple: it is almost always ignored.

      The site was open to ALL to comment, some authors did so, others did not. The site wasnt screaming, it was showing, clearly, labelled with big red arrows, for all to see “irregularities”.

      I can assure you, there is alot more to come – some really, really big names.

      The site, and its contributors, showed blatant potential science-fraud on an unprecedented scale, involving hundreds of millions of dollars of research grants.

      Lets all hope RW survives the recent attack on its freedom of speech for all the great work it does.

      Stewart

      February 12, 2013 at 5:26 pm

  27. kc February 12, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    If some piece of science, or anything, is true, it will stand the test of scruntiny. No tests are 100 percent.

    “Science is always seeking truth-and truth is meant to be proven over and over.” Let’s not claim science.

    I was always brought up with the notion that scientists do not “prove their truth”, but disprove what is not true.

    In some subjects like physics (for the brainy ones) one good counter example can mean sudden death to an earlier idea. It does not have to “be proven over and over” simply find a good counter example.

    fernando pessoa

    February 12, 2013 at 6:10 pm


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