Tag Archives: science

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,

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.

The system itself is untenable

The review system is broken – not only by the sheer number of “me too” papers but also by the lack of reviewers who are willing to spend their time on these papers. This is also the result of a new essay Continue reading The system itself is untenable

Was tun gegen Wissenschaftsbetrug?

Dirnagl/LJ hat die Antwort

Besteht die Lösung des Problems also darin, Wissenschafts­betrug härter zu sanktionieren? Schaden würde das sicher nicht. Schließlich kann man die Fälle, in denen bislang Strafen verhängt wurden, an einer Hand abzählen. Wissenschafts­betrug wird also nicht nur selten aufgedeckt, sondern noch seltener geahndet.

Müssen wir mehr gute wissen­schaftliche Praxis lehren und trainieren? Auch das ist eine gute Idee, aber sehr viel nützen wird es wohl nicht. …

Brauchen wir vielleicht eine Wissenschafts­polizei, die unangekündigte Kontrollen von Western Blots und Festplatten in Laboren durchführt? Ganz sicher nicht! Moderne Wissenschaft ist viel zu komplex …

Ein viel naheliegender Ansatz zur Abhilfe ist es, sich dem Kern des Problems anzunehmen und das toxische Karriere- und Bewertungs­system zu reformieren – also Forscher nicht auf Basis fragwürdiger Metriken, sondern mit Fokus auf Forschungs­qualität, Inhalte und dem tatsächlichen wissen­schaftlichen oder gesell­schaftlichen Impact zu beurteilen.


Steht [der Begriff] unter einem Beitrag als Antwort, wird darauf hingewiesen, dass der ursprüngliche Post mehr Antworten als „Retweets“, „Likes“, „Gefällt mir“-, oder „Fav“-Angaben hat. Es kann auch verwendet werden, wenn ein „DruKo“, also eine Antwort unter einem Beitrag, mehr „Likes“ hat als der Ausgangsbeitrag. Manchmal wird auch „ratioed“ verwendet. (GIGA)

“Ratio” sollte vielleicht auch als PubMed Flag bei Zeitschriften eingeführt werden, wenn es mehr PubPeer Kommentare als Zitierungen gibt.

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.

Does identification of misconduct in studies affect medical guidelines?

This question has been answered by an earlier study of Avenell et al.

By 2016 the affected trial reports were cited in 1158 publications, including 68 systematic reviews, meta-analyses, narrative reviews, guidelines and clinical trials. We judged that 13 guidelines, systematic or other reviews would likely change their findings if the affected trial reports were removed, and in another eight it was unclear if findings would change. By 2018, only one of the 68 citing publications, a systematic review, appeared to have undertaken a reassessment, which led to a correction.
We found evidence that this group of affected trial reports distorted the evidence base. Correction of these distortions is slow, uncoordinated and inconsistent. Unless there is a rapid, systematic, coordinated approach by bibliographic databases, authors, journals and publishers to mitigate the impact of known cases of research misconduct, patients, other researchers and their funders may continue to be adversely affected.

Katzenjammer I

Auf Science Twitter ist die Stimmung am Tiefpunkt nachdem Wissenschaftler scharenweise den Dienst verlassen.


obwohl doch klar ist, daß Continue reading Katzenjammer I

Pitbull reviewer

Virginia Walbot “Are we training pit bulls to review our manuscripts?”

Who hasn’t reacted with shock to a devastatingly negative review of a manuscript representing years of work by graduate students and postdoctoral fellows on a difficult, unsolved question? … dismissing the years of labor and stating that the manuscript can only be reconsidered with substantially more data providing definitive proof of each claim. … Your manuscript is declined, with encouragement to resubmit when new data are added.
I confess. I’m partly responsible for training the pit-bull reviewer, and I bet you are too.

How to push the impact of 2,299 scientists with 8,000 citations each?

Answer: Be co-author of an autophagy guideline

this is another episode of guidelines paper. More participants listed here – Affiliations listed stopped at 2299 – this means that there are 2299 authors in the manuscript. Unbelievable – how did they manage to get a consensus on what is written. May the first author explain, how the authorship on this guidelines is decided?

The slow abandonment of the academic mindset

Mittelman  on the  “The World-Class University and Repurposing Higher Education” 2018:

… the central academic purposes of the university are imperiled. While not universally adopted, they began to take root in the nineteenth century, developed gradually in the nineteenth and twentieth, and encounter novel tensions in the twenty-first. In this century, the triad of core educational missions in nonauthoritarian societies—cultivating democratic citizenship, fostering critical thinking, and protecting academic freedom — is losing footing. A new form of utilitarianism is gaining ground. It prioritizes useful knowledge and problem-solving skills at the expense of basic inquiry…

A few pages later Mittelman notices that universities

… have become preoccupied with strategic planning, benchmarking, branding, visibility, rankings, productivity indices, quality assurance systems, students as customers, and measurable outcomes. Before the 1980s, members of the higher education community rarely expressed themselves in these terms.

And it is true – we have been struggling even after 1980 with the mysteries of nature, by designing experiments and studies, trying to make new discoveries and teaching them to our students.

Fast rewind to the “idea of  a university” and the “cultivated intellect” by John Henry Newman (p15) and the usefulness of useless knowledge  of Abraham Flexner. In the last century clearly a need for unanticipated outcome was felt while today basically every research program starts with  a lengthy introduction that this is the most important research because disease D is so frequent or technology T is so important for the environment. Mittelman quotes Daniel Zajfman, 10th president of Israel’s Weizmann Institute, when talking about university rankings

When we look at the values of knowledge for the sake of knowledge, we realise 100 years later what we can do with this. If you look at the history of science, you will find that most of the discoveries were never made by trying to solve a problem, rather by trying to understand how nature works, so our focus is on understanding.

More humility needed

Hoekstra and Vazire on “Aspiring to greater intellectual humility in science

Although intellectual humility is presented as a widely accepted scientific norm, we argue that current research practice does not incentivize intellectual humility. We provide a set of recommendations on how to increase intellectual humility in research articles

Indeed – many recommendations are counterproductive for a science career…


and well, a divergent view at PubPeer.

So many asthma papers under fire

As an avid PubPeer reader, I found a  new  entry  by Elisabeth Bik recently about Andreas Pahl of Heidelberg Pharma who has already one retracted and several more papers under scrutiny.

Unfortunately there are now also many asthma trash papers from paper mills. Another example was identified by @gcabanac, distributed by @deevybee and published at Pubpeer.

In total there are 386 asthma entries at PubPeer. What is  really happening in this field? When I started the field there was just one misconduct case – Ranjit Kumar Chandra. That’s an increase from 1 to 386…

What makes it even more complicated that there is no border anymore to predatory journals if also respected scientists drop their names at predatory journals.  Only recently I received an email addressed to one of my former technical assistants as “professor” inviting her to send a paper…


Papers that should have been retracted, not corrected

It has been mentioned many times before  and has been even officially published by COPE

Science is either replicable or not. If not, it should be corrected. If faulty or fabricated, it should be retracted.

Continue reading Papers that should have been retracted, not corrected

The amyloid Western blot: Schrag vs Lesné

The amyloid analysis published in Nature has been commented at PubPeer and also earned a commentary  of Charles Piller in  Science. His “Blots on a field” news story is leading now even to an expression of concern by Nature.

The editors of Nature have been alerted to concerns regarding some of the figures in this paper. Nature is investigating these concerns, and a further editorial response will follow as soon as possible.

IMHO there are many artifacts including horizontal lines in Fig 2 when converting it to false color display. I can not attribute the lines to any splice mark  and sorry – this is a 16 year old gel image, (Basically an eternity has passed in terms of my own Nikon history with 5 generations from D2x to Z9) So don’t expect any final conclusion here as long as we cannot get the original images here.

false color display of Fig 2 a “the presence of 8 M urea did not alter the electrophoretic pattern of Aß oligomers in extracellular-enriched extracts from 12- to 20-month-oldbrains ofTg2576þ/2mice that were probed with 6E10 antibodies.”

Continue reading The amyloid Western blot: Schrag vs Lesné