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Duke University’s huge misconduct fine is a reminder to reward rigour – Nature (Arturo Casadevall | April 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 15, 2019
 

US$112.5-million settlement concerning fraudulent data is a casualty of a culture that prizes impact over robustness, says Arturo Casadevall.

Last week, Duke University announced it would pay the US government US$112.5 million to settle claims that fraudulent data were used in dozens of research-grant applications. This is a communal punishment for an institution where the overwhelming majority of scientists are honest, hard-working individuals seeking knowledge for the good of humanity.

The lesson is that scientific misconduct can carry severe institutional costs. (And scientific ones: more than a dozen papers connected to this case have been retracted.) Duke, in Durham, North Carolina, has promised to improve its practices and administration, including setting up an advisory panel on research integrity and excellence.

These steps are laudable. But I worry that the seeds of misconduct, although they grow in only a very few individuals, are planted in the very heart of academic biomedical sciences.

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“Predatory” company uses Canadian universities to sell shoddy conferences – Ottawa Citizen (Tom Spears | April 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on April 14, 2019
 

Omics International is still marketing junky science conferences in Montreal and Toronto this month despite a U.S. judge’s order to stop “deceptive” promoting of its conferences and academic journals.

Does your institution warn researchers about shoddy conferences and predatory publishers?  Does it also state in policy/guidance material not to intentionally use questionable publishers?  Perhaps it should.  We’ve included a long list of related items.

The company has a long record of publishing any research papers for a fee. This allows underqualified academics to pad their credentials with fake research papers and gain promotion. Companies that do this are known as “predatory” publishers.
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But a US District Court judge fined Omics more than $50 million on March 29 and made a sweeping order prohibiting the India-based company from “misrepresenting” its conferences and journals.
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So far, the company is showing no signs of change. It is running a series of 18 small but pricey conferences in Toronto and Montreal in the next few weeks on topics ranging from cosmetology to medicine. Registration fees range up to US$1,399 for two days.
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(US) Duke whistleblower gets more than $33 million in research fraud settlement – NPR (Bill Chappell | March 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 30, 2019
 

Duke University is paying the U.S. government $112.5 million to settle accusations that it submitted bogus data to win federal research grants. The settlement will also bring a $33.75 million payment to Joseph Thomas, the whistleblower who drew attention to the fraud when he worked for Duke.

Thomas, a former Duke lab analyst, sued the university on behalf of the federal government, saying that a Duke researcher fudged data to help the university win and keep lucrative grants from two agencies, the National Institutes of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The dozens of grants in question covered the study of the lung function of mice. The Justice Department says Thomas’ lawsuit alleged that “between 2006 and 2018, Duke knowingly submitted and caused to be submitted” claims to federal agencies that were unknowingly paying grant money for falsified research data. It adds that while the agreement settles the court case, it does not mean Duke has been determined liable.

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The Fraud Finder: A conversation with Elisabeth Bik – The Last Word on Nothing (Sally Adee | February 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on March 10, 2019
 

When you think of plagiarism, poems and books probably spring to mind more easily than, say, scientific papers. And words more easily than images. But plagiarism is not uncommon in science papers, and it often takes the form of images fiddled with and grafted from elsewhere. Whether they’re a consequence of laziness or a desire to mislead, these have played a role in the replication crisis many disciplines are now facing.

It’s a lot more difficult to detect plagiarism and fraud in scientific images than in written text. And even when you have irrefutable proof of wrongdoing, there are some surprising barriers to holding its authors to account. Nonetheless, some people are up to the task.

Meet Elisabeth Bik: by day, a mild-mannered director of science at a microbiome startup. By night (and on weekends), she takes to the internet and sifts through the scientific literature for the subtle visual fingerprints of misconduct. She has identified more than a thousand fraudulent images, and her work has led at least one journal to change the way it screens submissions. Her work has been featured several times by Retraction Watch, a blog that flays scientific malfeasance*.

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