Hokkaido University has said that a former researcher at the university’s chemical reaction research institute fabricated data in four of his papers, including one published in the journal Science in 2020.
This unfortunate story from Japan highlights the importance of institutions of acting promptly and firmly in response to allegations of research misconduct, including data manipulation, fabrication or falsification. This may be especially uncomfortable for an institution when a research output has been published in a high-impact publication. We believe that globally there is a compelling argument and that every jurisdiction has a national, independent and expert body to conduct investigations and decide upon appropriate responses to allegations of research misconduct
Specifically, the committee cited numerous unnatural gaps and signs of data manipulation in charts. The research was related to the study of artificial catalysts to facilitate chemical reactions.
The university launched a preliminary probe in April 2022 after receiving tip-offs on alleged data tampering related to the papers, for which research was conducted between October 2015 and March 2020. The full-scale investigation started in June 2022 and examined the work of five researchers in and outside the university listed as co-authors of the papers. All but Reyes and Sawamura were judged not to be responsible for misconduct.