Update on mysterious JACI retraction: Data were falsified

Since the weekend, we’ve been trying to get more details on a somewhat mysterious retraction in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The sparse notice really only said that there were “data inconsistencies” that made the data unreliable.

On Monday, as we noted in an update to the post yesterday, we learned:

The inconsistencies related to what an individual’s lab-book recorded in terms of patients and infections. These came to light when this data was compared to hospital records, during the process of manuscript preparation. As noted, we reported our concerns about the validity of the data and following a review, there was no adequate explanation and the concerns remained.

We still couldn’t tell whether this was error or falsification. Late last night, we got the answer from co-author Euan Tovey:

An independent panel investigated the inconsistencies and found that data had been falsified, and that as a consequence the reported results could not be relied upon.

Now, of course, the question is whether other abstracts and papers will need to be retracted, and which of the authors did the faking. We’ll update with anything we find out.

One thought on “Update on mysterious JACI retraction: Data were falsified”

  1. In the specific case of falsification or distortion of data (but perhaps less so for plagiarism) there is clearly a failing in the duty owed by the researcher to colleagues, his institution, his publishers and other workers in that field.
    It seems to me indisputable that an individual indulging in such misconduct must be liable for a civil wrong (tort). Just ensuring that such liability is acknowledged could – I think – be a powerful deterrent which could balance – to some extent -the pressures of “publish or perish”.
    It could be argued that in the case of plagiarism any “damage” is to the individual(s) being plagiarised but any civil action can only then be taken by the person suffering “damage”.

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