A 2011 paper published in the British Journal of Pharmacology (BJP) has been retracted after it was found that data represented in the study were manipulated. The paper, entitled, “Mice lacking the Raf-1 kinase inhibitor protein exhibit exaggerated hypoxia-induced pulmonary hypertension,” documented a study that concluded that a specific protein (which regulates various signaling pathways in the body) contributed to pulmonary health. However, after a lengthy discussion among the authors, the journal’s Editor-in-Chief, and John Wiley & Sons Ltd., it was decided that the paper was not relevant, following an internal investigation. It was found that the numbers depicted in three figures were inappropriately manipulated to suit the desired conclusion.
According to an official response notice on Retraction Watch, four of the five authors denied playing any role in the said manipulation. The remaining author, first author Ian Morecroft, has declined to comment.
The internal investigation was prompted when a whistleblower contacted BJP editor, Amrita Ahluwalia, who had this to say: “I assessed the issues raised and we conducted some internal assessment regarding the figures and I also asked an experienced academic for an independent opinion. Our assessments indicated that there were issues of potential duplication with three of the blots in question. We then contacted the corresponding author with our concerns to essentially offer the authors an opportunity to explain.”
The University of Glasgow, who initially supported the study, initiated an internal review. After speaking at length with each author, the decision to retract the paper was finalized. The University is still assessing how this breach of ethics occurred. An official spokesperson representing the authors and the University has said that the latter “cannot discuss the details of an ongoing investigation.”
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When cherry-picking is the norm
Incidentally, a study published in PLOS ONE in 2009 has suggested that many scientists manipulate results to have their data published. Survey results gathered from 1986 to 2005 concluded that two percent of the questioned scientists knowingly and deliberately fabricated, falsified, or modified data at least once. Moreover, 33.7 percent of them admitted to following questionable research practices.
The same study found that when rating their fellow colleagues, 72 percent of the participants said they believed their peers were dishonest as well. Daniele Fanielli, author of the study, did note, however that, “considering that these surveys ask sensitive questions and have other limitations, it appears that [the results are] a conservative estimate of the true prevalence of scientific misconduct.”
Data manipulation is not limited to just scientific journals
The title of the retracted paper was quite a mouthful, wasn’t it? The scientific jargon alone would make any layman immediately confused. Taking all that aside though, there are deeper implications of this incident. If scientists can manipulate data in seemingly innocuous studies (not discrediting the health relevance of the raf-1 kinese inhibitor protein), is it possible for them to fabricate results for more impactful subjects?
One appropriate example would be the controversies surrounding climate change. Only recently, a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist, Dr. John Bates, said that a 2015 climate change study (popularly known as the “the Karl study”) was rushed to “time the publication of the paper to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy.”
In an article on Climate Depot, Dr. Bates alleges that the Karl study did not “follow any of the formal procedures required to approve and archive their data, they had used a ‘highly experimental early run’ of a program that tried to combine two previously separate sets of records.” (Related: Climate change propagandists turn to FAKE SCIENCE VIDEO that falsely claims Manhattan will be under water in 60 years.)
The article further stated, “Dr. Bates said: ‘I learned that the computer used to process the software had suffered a complete failure.’ The reason for the failure is unknown, but it means that Pausebuster paper can never be replicated or verified by other scientists.”
This is disturbing news, and brings to question the ethical practices of many self-claimed “scientists” today.
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