PubPeer Selections: More questions about stem cells, price-shopping access charges

pubpeerHere’s another installment of PubPeer Selections:

2 thoughts on “PubPeer Selections: More questions about stem cells, price-shopping access charges”

  1. The German current affairs magazine “der Speigel” reported on similarities between images in publications by Edward Whang (Dana-Faber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston) on the 28th of October 2013.

    The title of the article “zu gleich” means too similar.

    “Einen anfechtbaren Gebrauch von Abbildungen machen womöglich weitere Wissenschaftler in dem Forschungsfeld. So hat der Bremer Bullerdiek, nach einem Hinweis, zwei Arbeiten aus dem Labor des Krebsforschers Edward Whang vom Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston geprüft. Dabei fand er Darstellungen, die einander verblüffend ähneln, obwohl sie eigentlich unterschiedliche Dinge zeigen sollen. Bullerdiek sagt: “Der Umgang mit den Abbildungen begründet den Verdacht der Manipulation.” Edward Whang stimmt zu, dass einige Abbildungen gleich aussehen, aber nach Rückversicherung bei seinen Kollegen sagt er: “Jedoch verbürge ich mich für die Exaktheit der Daten.” Bullerdiek beruhigt das nicht. Er befürchtet, “eine Photoshop-Mentalität” habe sich unter manchen Kollegen verbreitet: “Abbildungen, die nicht passen, werden passend gemacht.”

    “Other researchers in the field make questionable use of figures. Bullerdiek, from Bremen, after a tip-off, checked two works from the laboratory of the cancer researcher Edward Whang at the Dana-Faber/Harvard Cancer Center in Boston. There he found examples which resembled each other extremely well, although they are supposed to demonstrate different things. Bullerdiek says:”the circumstances with the figures support the suspicion of manipulation”. Edward Whang agrees that a few figures look the same, but after reassurance from his colleagues says: “however I vouch for the exactness of the data”. That does not calm Bullerdiek down. He fears, “a Photoshop-mentality has spread among many colleagues:”figures, which do not fit, are made to fit”.

  2. I have been monitoring the progress and development of PubPeer and despite the risks to scientists, as exemplified by the Fazlul Sarkar case, it remains the only site, in my opinion, where a relatively free and centralized environment of academic discussion can take place. PubPeer is proving somewhat useful for plant scientists, and there have been some breakthroughs. Until October/November, there were a scant 5 or 6 plant-science related PubPeer entries, and even these were extremely superficial, at best. Now, there appear to be almost 50, some/many of which have been double-documented at RW*. As one interesting example, 5 or 10 years ago, it would have simply been impossible to raise questions and queries, even if valid, especially about elite members of the community, but at PubPeer, the platform for exposure of problems and discussion now exists:

    For this case, three days ago, the world never knew. In 48 hours, 170+ views. This is progress. Now the network needs to be put into place to raise world-wide awareness.


    This is, without a doubt, the path not yet taken. And the signs are encouraging. But there are serious risks for all parties involved, least of which is science itself, and its integrity. I predict that plant science is certainly going to pass through the dark ages before it reaches a rennaissance. And everyone is going to take a hit: the whistle-blowers, the innocent, the guilty, the editors, the publishers, the literature, and the infrastructure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.