We have a few follow-ups from stories we’ve recently covered:
Terry Elton case initially chalked up to “disorganization,” not misconduct
Ohio State University (OSU), which along with the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) recently sanctioned a pharmacy professor for image manipulation, “failed at first to recognize his deception,” according to an investigation by The Columbus Dispatch based on university documents.
The piece, which quotes Ivan, reveals that OSU needed some prompting from the ORI before it concluded that Terry Elton was guilty of misconduct, and not just unintentional errors that he at one point blamed on a research technician who lost her job in October 2011:
After allegations surfaced in 2010, the OSU pharmacy department committee concluded that “irregular” images in journal articles were caused by disorganization, not “intentional malfeasance,” on the part of professor Terry Elton.
That July 2011 report might have ended the OSU probe into Elton’s research.
But a year later, the university found that Elton had intentionally misstated figures in several journal articles and in a grant application to the National Institutes of Health.That was only after the federal Office of Research Integrity urged the university to reconsider the case, using a PowerPoint presentation to highlight a pattern of falsified images in Elton’s publications over the past decade.
The newspaper’s request for public records also uncovered two other misconduct investigations over the past five years.
The story is accompanied by a good roundup of the effects fraud can have on science, also quoting Ivan, along with ORI director David Wright, Ferric Fang, Arturo Casadevall — two co-authors of an October PNAS paper on retractions — and others.
Give both pieces a read. Reporter Ben Sutherly does a nice job of digging up new material that highlights the conflicts of interest inherent in university investigations, and of broadening the story.
Resveratrol researcher loses job for good
We’re several months behind on this, but we thank a commenter for pointing out last week that Dipak Das, the resveratrol researcher whom the University of Connecticut found guilty of more than 100 instances of misconduct, has lost a bid for his job back. UConn told Das he had lost his job on May 18, according to The Hartford Courant, which reported this summer that he was appealing the decision. On August 8, UConn’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to uphold the termination, as noted in their meeting minutes.
As we’ve reported, Das has retracted 19 papers so far.
Fastest retraction ever? Ivan on Science Friday
Finally, NPR Science Friday host Ira Flatow interviewed Ivan, Scientific American editor-in-chief Mariette DiChristina and MAKE Magazine editor-in-chief Mark Frauenfelder for an hour-long segment last week recapping 2012. The audio is available here.
Don’t miss the opening moments, in which Flatow jokingly set the record for quickest retraction ever.