Ahead of a meeting with a representative from the recently-formed UK Research Integrity Office, I sorted through my file of papers on research misconduct. Amongst them I found a ‘News in Brief’ page from Nature Medicine, 2005 . On it, I found the headline that had caused me to photocopy the page – “Many scientists admit to misconduct”, drawing attention to a paper in its sister publication Nature published a month earlier. The paper described a survey in which it was revealed that one in three scientists has committed some type of scientific misconduct.
The irony was that at the bottom of the same page was a short piece (from the same correspondent, Emily Singer) announcing “South Korean chalks up another stem cell victory”. The article highlighted the work of Woo-Suk Hwang in which he claimed to have cloned human embryonic stem cells in a paper published two months earlier in Science. The disgraced Professor, formerly of Seoul National University, is now used as a case-study for fraud in research (for example, Fraud Advisory Panel Occasional paper 01/07 Fraud in Research: Is it new or just not true?).
Was this incredible prescience on the part of the author, or just a strange coincidence of publishing?
Posted on behalf of Dr. Dave Wilson, Cardiff School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Wales, UK