Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ethics in science: two cases

The first one is from India. Here's T.V. Padma in SciDev.Net:

... [O]n 23 February, the Journal of Biological Chemistry withdrew a paper by Gopal Kundu and colleagues at the National Centre for Cell Sciences (NCCS) amid allegations of data manipulation.

Kundu says the decision was "drastic" because the confusion is confined to only two sets of data out of 80.

An institutional enquiry committee at NCCS advised Kundu to withdraw the report, but a second independent committee headed by noted biologist and former director of the Indian Institute of Science, Govindrajan Padmanabhan, later found the allegations to be baseless.

"Both the NCCS and Padmanabhan committee cannot be right," points out an SSV [Society for Scientific Values] member.

The second one is from the US, and the research in question is also a high profile one due to its scientific and medical significance. Here's Nicholas Wade in the NYTimes:

An inquiry panel has found what it called “significantly flawed” data in a major stem cell paper published in Nature in 2002.

The article, which claimed stem cells isolated from an adult could change into all the major tissue types of the body, was seized on by opponents of abortion as showing that embryonic stem cell research was unnecessary since adult stem cells could provide all the predicted benefits.

The lead author of the article, Catherine Verfaillie, said yesterday that she had sent a letter to Nature stating that the flawed data should not be relied on but that they did not affect the article’s conclusions. She said the journal was resubmitting the article to the original referees for them to make their own assessment.

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Two more related links:


  1. gaddeswarup said...

    I saw this article (via evo.Psychology site) which seems to be related to this topic:
    But I do not understand it. may be somebody with a Statistics background can see the relevance.

  2. Abi said...

    Thanks, Swarup, for the link. While its approach may need a bit of serious study, the paper's conclusions are easy enough to understand and relate to: replication enhances the essential correctness of research results and findings.