Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Research misconduct - the ball passes to the institutions....

A consortium of journal editors have ganged up on institutions that have previously employed disgraced Japanese anaesthetist Yoshitaka Fujii, asking them to authenticate up to 193 publications, or else these publications will be retracted. These allegations were based on a letter by John Carlisle, published in the journal Anaesthesia. (See letter by Editors).

Yoshitaka Fujii has been the subject of alleged scientific fraud since 2000 when a group of researchers led by Peter Kranke accused Fujii in a letter to the journal, Anesthesia & Analgesia. Despite these allegations, neither journals nor institutions that Fujii worked for, attempted to do anything about it. Anesthesia & Analgesia, in fact, continued to publish up to 10 papers by Fujii. The University of Toho eventually sacked Fujii in February this year, for ethical breaches in a number of studies.

What has been exceptional in this recent move by the journal editors, has been the bold, albeit overdue response to act on these allegations of fraud. The threat to retract 193 publications if carried out will represent the most drastic journal action for serial scientific fraud ever. The public communication between the consortium of journal editors and Japanese institutions may represent the first such concerted action to force the institutions to take research misconduct seriously. This passes the ball back to the institutions. Let's hope that institutions around the world will not continue to buat bodoh about allegations of research misconduct. There is no place for Lord Horatio Nelson in research.

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