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ResourcesResearch IntegrityComing to Grips with Coauthor Responsibility – TheScientist (Catherine Offord | May 2017)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Coming to Grips with Coauthor Responsibility – TheScientist (Catherine Offord | May 2017)


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The scientific community struggles to define the duties of collaborators in assuring the integrity of published research.

When a research output is retracted there can be serious and long lasting impacts on coauthors, even if they weren’t aware of the wrongdoing. This raises the questions: do we need to consistently record the contributions of collaborators; do we need more information when a retraction occurs; and do we need more clarity about the responsibilities of coauthors? Thought provoking stuff.

When cancer researcher Ben Bonavida accepted a visiting graduate student from Japan into his lab at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) just over a decade ago, he treated Eriko Suzuki like every other student he had supervised for the past 30 years. “I met with her regularly,” Bonavida recalls. “We went over her data, she showed me all the Westerns, all the experiments.” After months spent working on the cancer therapeutic rituximab’s mechanism of action, “she presented her findings to me and the other collaborators in the lab, and based on that we published a paper in Oncogene.”

Appearing in 2007, the paper accrued nearly 40 citations over the next seven years. But in April 2014, the study gained a less favorable mention on PubPeer, a website where users anonymously discuss research articles, often raising possible causes for concern. One user noted that some of the Western blots used to support the paper’s conclusions looked suspicious. In particular, one figure appeared to contain a duplicated and slightly modified part of another image.

Read the rest of this discussion piece
Also see
The Retraction Watch online database

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