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July 5, 2011
Fakery, As Revealed By Figures
I note via Retraction Watch that the Journal of Biological Chemistry has issued retraction notices for four papers published from the group of the late Maria Diverse-Pierluissi, at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. One of their readers looked over the papers (which had been cited a few times, without making any particular huge impact, it seems), and found that some of the figures (Western blots and so on) repeat, even though they're supposed to represent different things (e.g., Figure 3A and 3C here).
Mt. Sinai told the Retraction Watch people that an internal investigation turned up the evidence of misconduct, and that the matter has been referred to the NIH, which funded the work. What those duplicate figures make me wonder, though, is how long it'll be before we have a plagiarized-figure search tool, in the same way that we have plagiarized-text tools running? There's already something similar out there - TinEye - and I'm sure that much nicer systems are available for a fee. Have any scientific journals implemented something like this?
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