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Human Stem Cell Cloning Paper Contains Reused Images 38

Posted by Soulskill
from the novel-method-for-saving-some-time dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A very recent paper in the prestigious biology journal Cell — 'Human Embryonic Stem Cells Derived by Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer' (openly accessible) — reports the novel creation of human embryonic stem cells from somatic nuclei. It has received massive media coverage and is surely penciled in as a strong candidate for scientific publication of the year. It does however have several examples of image reuse that have been pointed out by a submission on PubPeer. In the paper, it is recorded that the journal Cell accepted this paper just 4 days after submission. Perhaps, under the circumstances, the pre-publication peer review had to be a little hasty? At least at PubPeer, while conducting post publication review, we can take as long as necessary to make up for that lost time. 'In 2004 scientists led by Woo Suk Hwang of Seoul National University claimed to have produced human embryonic stem cells through the same technique used by the Oregon team. Their paper, published in Science, turned out to contain fabricated data. That came to light when scientists figured out that some of the images in the paper were copied or manipulated.''"
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Human Stem Cell Cloning Paper Contains Reused Images

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  • by walmass (67905) on Saturday May 25, 2013 @03:01PM (#43822965)
    The reused images were in a 2004 article. So while the substance of the headline is accurate, it would make people think that the recent paper was guilty of that. Whether the hasty review of the current paper results in missing some mistake is a totally different question
    • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Saturday May 25, 2013 @03:23PM (#43823089)

      Misleading headlines at Slashdot are not a new phenomenon, as most of the story submitters, /. "editors", and readers have a strong bias. This is normal for any non "News" (with a capital "N") web site. Bloggers may like to think of themselves as "journalists", but it's really not often accurate.

      But it's been getting worse and worse here at /. and I think it's mostly driven by two things: Slashdot employees who call themselves "editors" but in fact are not, and a mandate for page views.

      Page views I understand, but honestly, can we really say that there is any real "editing" going on? Do these so-called "editors" actually get paid to make minor formatting changes and for the most part simply push the most salacious / scandalous / titillating crap to the front page?

      Has Slashdot become the National Enquirer of the Tech World?

    • by jklovanc (1603149) on Saturday May 25, 2013 @03:33PM (#43823131)

      The reuse was in both articles. From PubPeer [pubpeer.com];

      It does however have several examples of image reuse which might be of interest to PubPeer members and readers.

      - Fig. 2F is a slightly cropped version of the cell microscopy image in Fig. 6D top left.

      - Fig. 6D top right, the cell microscopy image is a slightly cropped version of supplementary Fig. s5, top right. The cells in 6D are labelled as "h-ESO-NT1 Ph" yet in figure s5 they are labelled to be "hESO-7". We understand the former to inherit caffeine-treated somatic nuclei whereas the latter are original stem cells.

      Under pressure to assemble the figures for rapid publication, one can understand making a cut and paste figure assembly mistake. Nevertheless it should be noted that image cropping does take extra work.

      - Figure S6 top centre and top right are the same image.

      The second article was mentioned to draw parallels between image reuse and scientific misconduct.

    • From my reading, the new article does indeed contain "reused" images:

      In one case, an image described as a cloned stem-cell colony is reproduced in another image, where it is labeled an embryonic stem-cell line derived from in vitro fertilization (IVF), not cloning.

      Mitalipov told the journal Nature that the label is wrong, and that another labeling mistake explained other duplicated images.

      ...

      ...two images - genes activated in IVF stem cells and in clone stem cells - are suspiciously identical. Mitalipov said one image used the wrong data, and that he and his team are correcting it.

      It then goes on to discuss the 2004 paper's issues.

    • Exactly. While the summary seems to imply that the authors of the paper were dishonest and fabricated their data, the article has this to say:

      >In a statement, the journal, Cell, said "there were some minor errors" in the paper, but "we do not believe these errors impact the scientific findings of the paper."

      And then later says this:

      >adding that the university does not believe the errors "impact the scientific findings of the paper in any way. We also do not believe there was any wrongdoing."

      So before
  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Saturday May 25, 2013 @03:02PM (#43822967)
    They found the "Cloning" feature in Photoshop, and said: "Hey, someone else has already done the research for us! How convenient."
  • I took a moment to RTFM (Yeah, yeah, I know; this is Slashdot where nobody ever RTFMs.) and found out what the problem is. In at least one case, the same image appears twice with different captions, and in several others, the labels contain the wrong data. So far, nobody is accusing the authors of intentional wrongdoing, but the incident does raise concerns about papers not being properly edited or reviewed before acceptance.
    • but the incident does raise concerns about papers not being properly edited or reviewed before acceptance.

      Perhaps the "editors" use to work for Slashdot?

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      So far, nobody is accusing the authors of intentional wrongdoing

      You'd never know that by reading the summary or headline.

      • How true. However TFA does state specifically that the errors are considered to be accidental, so I thought that it should be mentioned at least once in the discussion.
    • In at least one case, the same image appears twice with different captions, and in several others, the labels contain the wrong data. So far, nobody is accusing the authors of intentional wrongdoing, but the incident does raise concerns about papers not being properly edited or reviewed before acceptance.

      Don't know about Cell, but lots of journals have the authors submit the paper (including revisions) with all the images collected at the back, presumably a holdover from pre-electronic typesetting/layout techniques. So the case of one image appearing with two different captions, it's at least possible that the error was made by the publisher rather than the authors.

  • So, an "anonymous" reader worded their submission as "at least at PubPeer .. we can". Sounds like this was submitted by someone from PubPeer. Coincidentally, the summary posted talks about how crappy this other place is for publishing without doing adequate review, while PubPeer is an awesome place because they do super amazing reviewing of the content they publish and this would have never happened.

    • So, an "anonymous" reader worded their submission as "at least at PubPeer .. we can". Sounds like this was submitted by someone from PubPeer.

      Just as likely hastily copy-and-pasted from PubPeer.

  • They're cloned, silly. They don't infringe if they're cloned, right?

  • ...some of the images in the paper were copied or manipulated.

    ... they were cloned from stem photos.

  • In the paper, it is recorded that the journal Cell accepted this paper just 4 days after submission. Perhaps, under the circumstances, the pre-publication peer review had to be a little hasty?

    Four days isn't long enough to hear back from reviewers whether they're willing to do it. Something is *seriously* wrong with this picture.

    (No pun intended.)

    • by pepty (1976012)

      In the paper, it is recorded that the journal Cell accepted this paper just 4 days after submission. Perhaps, under the circumstances, the pre-publication peer review had to be a little hasty?

      Four days isn't long enough to hear back from reviewers whether they're willing to do it. Something is *seriously* wrong with this picture.

      (No pun intended.)

      I'm guessing the authors were worrying about getting scooped. So in this case - a high impact paper in a high impact journal - the editor probably called potential reviewers personally until he had enough lined up. Why? The authors probably made a publish/no publish decision by the end of the week a condition for submitting the paper to Cell instead of to Science.

  • I would not believe that because it says the paper was published 4 days after submission that the review process took that long. Since time to publication became something that journals advertise, they have been using all kinds of dirty tricks to mislead readers about this statistic. For example, where it used to be common after review to send back a "revise & resubmit" response, they started doing "reject & resubmit". In other words, "we are rejecting this submission, but we encourage you to tak
    • This isn't just misleading advertising. Many journals put the dates right on the paper in the publication. I've got one on my desk right now that says "Recieved: 29 November 2006 / Revised: 2 April 2007 / Accepted: 12 April 2007 / Published [...]".

      Note that the second gap is much shorter, because if the initial submission was good, all that is needed is enough time to verify that the revision addresses all the issues raised by the reviewers during the first gap. If that's what the "4 days" refers to, it'

      • Right. My point is that many journals are no longer printing that first submission date and are instead treating the second submission date as the original submission date because since they "rejected" it the first time, now it's a "new" submission to their system. So its hard to know what that 4 days really means.
  • As someone who has been involved in this on both sides (author and reviewer) I can say: yes, the review was hasty, since they are always, and most likely outsourced by the reviewers to people who don't have a clue what reviewing is all about. Maybe the process itself wasn't hasty, but I'm sure most of the reviewers made it hasty by not making it top priority. Also chances are more than 90% that the paper is absolute bullshit only created to satisfy the hunger of management/the PhD professor for more papers.

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