Fraudulent structures uncovered by Acta Crystallographica Section E

An editorial in the January, 2010 issue of Acta Crystallographica Section E tells the distressing story behind a number of frauds involving papers published in the journal (which is a member of COPE). The fraud is extensive, with apparently at least 70 structures having been shown to be falsified. Although the details of how the fraud was uncovered is scientifically complex, the essence is simple in that it came to light during testing of the checking programs for the journal on previously published papers.

The editors of the journal express, rightly, their shock at such an extensive fraud, but clearly have moved swiftly to correct the scientific record. As they say “It is also noteworthy to point out that the current problems could not have been easily discovered without the availability of the structure-factor files; it will become increasingly important for all journals reporting crystal structures to make sure that they require authors to supply such data in future.” and “It is a strength of crystallography that fraudulent practices can be identified, even retrospectively, by diligent archiving of data and checking”

There are clearly lessons here for other disciplines – without the availability of raw data even very egregious examples of fraud may lie undetected in the published literature.


  • Posted by Pablo, 20/7/2012 1.47pm

Richard> It's funny you should ask (I've podeernd about it), it's something about the metrics I guess? That it can be measured your importance/impact on the field. And we all want something to measure our efforts since papers is one of those important things?Of course, the whole thing is counting on that all fields are interesting for lots of research groups and that you are in the most important research group with the hottest research that everyone wants to biuld on. And this isn't reality as much (vetrinarian stuff? not so hot, but boy is it nice to have some research on it?!)I guess it could show some kind of acceptance by your peers (maybe even on who can promote their research as hot and great) since I think that it shows more of who's hot in the field and who is out there for people to know right now. It's not as much about the quality of research per se , unless people put appeal as quality research , which I don't really do since I think you can do great quality of research but in a subfield/subgene/whathaveyou where people need the research as more info even if the grant givers don't see a potential money maker.