Tuesday, April 01, 2014

RIKEN investigation confirms Obokata paper on stem cells in Nature used doctored figures

An investigation by RIKEN confirmed that two of six figures in the Obokata paper in Nature were not what they were represented to be.

A question arises. Why did readers immediately detect the problems with the figures when the reviewers did not?
Also, why did the co-authors allow this to go on? From a Bloomberg article

Co-authors Teruhiko Wakayama at University of Yamanashi and Yoshiki Sasai at Riken bear “heavy responsibility” for allowing the papers to be submitted to the journal Nature without verifying the accuracy of the data, the committee concluded.

The Bloomberg article also stated: Obokata said the errors found by the committee in the stem-cell studies were mistakes made without malicious intent,

See Bloomberg article Riken Says Some Data Falsified in Stem-Cell Studies

A more detailed account in ScienceInsider by Dennis Normile
RIKEN Panel Finds Misconduct in Reprogrammed Stem Cell Papers
includes the text

The report also says that the experiments are so poorly documented "that it will be extremely difficult for anyone else to accurately trace or understand her experiments." In a stinging summary, the committee wrote: "Dr. Obokata's actions and sloppy data management lead us to the conclusion that she sorely lacks, not only a sense of research ethics, but also integrity and humility as a scientific researcher."

Normile pointed to the role of bloggers in uncovering the problems

Almost immediately after publication, bloggers in Japan and contributors to PubPeer, a website where scientists discuss published papers, started pointing out possibly manipulated images and apparently plagiarized text.


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