Friday, August 17, 2007

The Goodwin case: An update.

Remember this post from a few days ago? While Kundu's paper was withdrawn (over his protest) by JBC, the journals that published the papers by Elizabeth Goodwin (who had fabricated some data, according to the investigation by her institution, the University of Wisconsin at Madison) had still not taken any action (as of last June).

We now have an update on one of the papers. In the latest issue of Science, Philip M. Iannaccone of Northwestern writes:

The authors of Lakiza et al. received a draft of a statement from the University of Wisconsin report by e-mail that suggested a possible problem with two panels out of five in Fig. 1 (one of nine figures in the paper). We identified original data for Fig. 1 and did new experiments with independent methods and reagents to verify the conclusions that the paper reached from data presented in that figure. That process is now complete, and after peer review and scrutiny commensurate with the matter, the results have appeared in Developmental Biology. They verify the original conclusions of Fig. 1 of the paper [...]

The additional validation work was undertaken with support from several labs and would not have been possible without their collective, independent help. Most noteworthy are the young scientists who worked so hard on the paper at early stages of their careers--because they are victims of this unfortunate situation and are doubly victimized if the conclusion the scientific community reaches is that this paper has no merit. Although the scientific results are the most important component of the vindication of the work, I feel strongly that we owe it to our young scientists to draw attention to the verification.

This brings me back to the Kundu case: if his coworkers and he had admitted that there was indeed a problem in their second paper, and if it was due to an error (which would imply that it was unintentional), a few additional experiments and a correction would have put a quick end to the matter. Now, having taken the line -- which I believe is no longer tenable -- that the figures in question came out of real and distinct experiments, and having dug their heels in (through their later actions including letters to SSV and Current Science), they have precluded this possibility.


  1. Mary Ann said...

    Goodwin has now been convicted.