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December 6, 2013
Shop Up Some Gels For the Paper
There have been many accusations over the years of people duplicating and fudging gels in biology papers. The Science-Fraud.org site made quite an impression with some of these, and there are others. But as in so many other fields, manual labor is giving way to software and automation.
Nature News has the story of an Italian company that has come up with an automated way of searching images in scientific papers for duplication. The first scalp has already been claimed, but how bad is the problem?
Now midway through the analysis, he estimates that around one-quarter of the thousands of papers featuring gels that he has analysed so far potentially breached widely accepted guidelines on reproducing gel images. And around 10% seem to include very obvious breaches, such as cutting and pasting of gel bands. Some journals were more affected than others, he says. Those with a high impact factor tended to be slightly less affected. He plans to publish his results.
I'll be happy to see the paper, and glad to see this sort of technique applied more broadly. I wonder if it can be adapted to published NMR spectra?
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