Tag Archives: integrity

MDPI, Frontiers and Hindawi now being blacklisted

According to a Chinese blogger, three publishers (not journals!) are now being blacklisted

On January 3rd, Zhejiang Gonggong University, a public university in Hangzhou, announced that all the journals of the three largest Open Access (OA) publishing houses were blacklisted, including Hindawi (acquired by Wiley in early 2021), MDPI founded by a Chinese businessman Lin Shukun, and Frontiers, which has become very popular in recent years. The university issued a notice stating that articles published by Hindawi, MDPI and Frontiers will not be included in research performance statistics.

Whistleblower update

Der Schutz von Whistleblower sollte eigentlich nach Willen der EU besser werden. Aber nach unendlichen Verzögerungen, zuletzt vor dem Vermittlungsausschuss des Bundestages, ist es damit nicht weit her, wenn nicht mal mehr anonyme Hinweise möglich sind. Einziger Trost: auch woanders nur”talk, no action”.
So wird das deutsche Gesetz wohl bald wieder einkassiert werden, das meint nicht nur Transparency Deutschland

Leider muss man in aller Deutlichkeit sagen: Der vorliegende Gesetzentwurf zum Schutz von Hinweisgeber:innen ist ein Fiasko. Die Bundesregierung muss dringend nachbessern, denn in der vorliegenden Form brächte das Gesetz neue Rechtsunsicherheiten für Whistleblower:innen, Unternehmen und Behörden. Anstatt den klaren Vorgaben und Empfehlungen der EU zu folgen, hat die Bundesregierung Stückwerk vorgelegt.

Foreign talents

While I came across this program only in the He Jiankui case the NIH director is writing now about the Chinese talent recruitment program

Many NIH cases of grant policy violations involve activities in China and scientists of Chinese origin, raising concerns about racial, ethnic, or political targeting. The disproportionate share may be related to the extensive reach of Chinese talent recruitment programs, which explicitly state preferences for ethnic Chinese scientists. NIH compliance reviews abide by the same procedures for all scientists irrespective of their demographics, and the inquiries include cases involving countries other than China.

while we should not blame the Chinese culture but individual behaviour.

Deviation from preregistration

I know tons of papers that deviate from their initial plan, but I am not aware of so many papers where this can be unequivocally found by comparing pre-registration and publication.

It has been mentioned recently and there seems also a formal analysis in the literature

We observed deviations from the plan in all studies, and, more importantly,  in all but one study, at least one of these deviations was not fully disclosed.

Further research required,

Why research integrity matters

A new paper by Lex Bouter clearly shows

Scholars need to be able to trust each other, because otherwise they cannot collaborate and use each other’s findings. Similarly trust is essential for research to be applied for individuals, society or the natural environment. The trustworthiness is threatened when researchers engage in questionable research practices or worse.

The ass is dominant over the head

This is a citation from the 2022 Faintuch  book “Integrity of Scientific Research” at page 137.  “Fraud, Misconduct, and Unethical Practices in Biomedical Research in China” by Lei and Qiu covers close collaborations between scientists and industry which is now standard in most universities and research centers

“The ass is dominant over the head” (pigu jueding naodai) … which means that a persons’s decision is made by her/his position. Faced with conflicts of interests, scientists tend to consider more their own or the company’s interests when they have close interaction with this company, This is why research must be regulated and supervised by regulatory bodies.

Systemic science flaw

Bruce Alberts, one of the most reputable living scientist, already back in a 2014 PNAS paper

The long-held but erroneous assumption of never-ending rapid growth in biomedical science has created an unsustainable hypercompetitive system that is discouraging even the most outstanding prospective students from entering our profession—and making it difficult for seasoned investigators to produce their best work…

The great majority of biomedical research is conducted by aspiring trainees: by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. As a result, most successful biomedical scientists train far more scientists than are needed to replace him- or herself…

Competition in pursuit of experimental objectives has always been a part of the scientific enterprise, and it can have positive effects. However, hypercompetition for the resources and positions that are required to conduct science suppresses the creativity, cooperation, risk-taking, and original thinking required to make fundamental discoveries…

The inflated value given to publishing in a small number of so-called “high impact” journals has put pressure on authors to rush into print, cut corners, exaggerate their findings, and overstate the significance of their work.

there is nothing to add.

Integrity of scientific research

I have a new book on my desk that covers most aspects of the recent discussion around research integrity in 60 chapters arranged in 14 sections.


It is a comprehensive overview of research integrity across disciplines. Maybe some chapters are not written by the leading experts in the field. And maybe the scope is super-broad with several off topic chapters like corruption in healthcare or repetitive texts in subdisciplines like dental care. Unfortunately this comes at the cost that other chapters like image integrity are completely missing, while even PubPeer is not mentioned in the appendix. Also a keyword index would be nice. Nevertheless it is the largest body of text so far and should be on every desk that deals with science integrity. There are numerous highlights that cannot be found anywhere else like a comprehensive list of all paper rejection statements (p 412). So I will have to read it again next year.


Deep fake image fraud

Doing now another image integrity study, I fear that we may already have the deep fake images in current scientific papers. Never spotted any in the wild which doesn’t mean that it does not exist…

Here are some T cells that I produced this morning.


Continue reading Deep fake image fraud

The Lancet and scientific integrity

We have learned in the past that the Lancet published editorials that clearly separated the journal from the publisher Elsevier

Reed Elsevier’s response is that the sale of military equipment is legal, government supported, and tightly regulated. However, The Lancet‘s collaborations in child survival and health-systems strengthening, for example, risk being tainted by Reed Elsevier’s promotion of the “selling process” of arms.

Of course you can’t sell weapons and distance yourself from selling weapons at the same time…

Good scientists doing wrong

There is an interesting study “When Good People Break Bad: Moral Impression Violations in Everyday Life” by  the Canadian PhD student  Kate Guan and her advisor Steven Heine. It is a phenomenon that is annoying many people if we look at the reactions to Twitter posts und PubPeer entries accusing scientists of wrong doing. The paper provides some explanations Continue reading Good scientists doing wrong

It’s all too much

Charles Day in Physics Today (which is already my view in biomedicine 5 years ago)

Their main conclusion is sobering: As the number of papers in a field increases, researchers find it harder to recognize innovative work. Progress seems to be slowing.

How to buy papers

It is incredible – but probably some kind of advanced fee scam only.

https://twitter.com/ronepz/status/1480035059046313991 Screenshot 10.1.2022 while I can’ t verify the original Facebook post


500€ would be clear bargain compared to the 9500€ that you have to pay here

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03324-y Screenshot 10.1.2022

although there is a surplus of 6000€ for the science writer at fiverr and another 50,000€ lab funding to one of the numerous “science charities”  and “patient alliances”.

More content is great. But, how much of that discovery turns out to be unreliable?

A great paper by Josie Fenske

More content is great. But, how much of that discovery turns out to be unreliable?
“The number was 2700 in 2020, but we have 3000 retractions a year now,” says Oransky. The steady increase of retractions from year to year is a pattern that can be observed back to the beginning of Retraction Watch, and there’s no indication of slowing down.