The Guardian reported a story on 1 April about a young Japanese scientific researcher Haruko Obokata who rose to fame when she published an apparently simple way to create stem cells. After others failed to reproduce the same results Haruko has been found guilty of misconduct by a committee charged with investigating her work.
Obokata originally published two articles in the scientific journal Nature in January but doubts about her findings were soon raised. Several discrepancies in her work where uncovered by researchers, these included possible plagiarism and images that appear to be manipulated.
Some scientist are uneasy about the research and fraudulent work, but others are also concerned about how Obokata has been treated.
Pressure to publish
Dr Steven Bradshaw consultant at Emedits Global looks at the wider implications.
“The current concerns should be used to frame wider discussion on research ethics, transparency and the wider implications of research fraud. This might include trial registration, publication (of even negative findings), access to data and ensuring that medical writer involvement is acknowledged and issues with plagiarism. The latter two being particular problems for researchers who have English as a second language.”
“There is pressure on researchers to publish otherwise they won't get funding. This causes problems, especially for good researchers who just can't read, write or speak English well enough. In fact my company Emedits Global provides consulting services to researchers to help them to get their message across to global audiences and publish in the most ethical way.”
Notes to editors:
*Dr Steven Bradshaw is a consultant at Emedits Global http://www.emedits.com/ EMEDITS provides professional manuscript editing, medical writing and publication support services - specializing in medicine, bioscience and pharmaceuticals.
**In 2012 the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found that 67.4% of retractions were attributable to scientific misconduct and 43.3% of those were potentially fraudulent.
*** Guardian article published in April 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/apr/01/stem-cell-scientist-haruko-obokata-guilty-misconduct-committee
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