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Elsewhere in Science, 9 May 2014


Each week, Science publishes a number of articles that are likely to be of interest to career-minded readers. Because those articles are published on the other Science sites, Science Careers readers could easily overlook them.

To remedy that, every Friday we're pointing our readers toward articles appearing in Science—the print magazine as well as ScienceInsider, ScienceNOW, Science Translational Medicine (Sci. TM), and Science Signaling—that hold some relevance to careers in science and other technical fields. (Note that articles appearing in Sci. TM, Science Signaling, and Science may require AAAS—the publisher of Science Careers—membership, a Science subscription, or a site license.)

► In April, we reported that stem cell scientist Haruko Obokata (the lead author of the two STAP—stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency—papers in Nature) was found guilty of research misconduct by a RIKEN investigating committee. Obokata appealed the decision, but, as Dennis Normile reported in a Thursday ScienceInsider, "the same investigating committee rebutted the points of her appeal one by one and concluded 'that there is no need to re-investigate the results of the committee’s investigation.' "

The story got weird last week when we learned that Shunsuke Ishii, the chair of the RIKEN investigating committee that found Obokata guilty of research misconduct, is also under investigation for research misconduct. Then on Monday, Normile reported that images in papers published by three other members of the committee are raising questions, and that "the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper is reporting that RIKEN President Ryoji Noyori has asked all laboratory and research group leaders to check all of their previous publications for doctored images and plagiarism. The newspaper quotes an unnamed RIKEN official as saying the directive covers at least 20,000 publications."  

► More research integrity news: In a News & Analysis story in this week's issue of Science, Frank van Kolfschooten reported from Amsterdam "that a national research integrity panel has found evidence of data manipulation in the work of social psychologist Jens Förster, of the University of Amsterdam (UvA)."

The accusations arose when a researcher asked Förster for raw data from his experiments; Förster responded by sending an incomplete data set. Then the researcher analyzed data from two of Förster's papers and claimed that "[t]ogether, the three papers contained 42 experiments; the means reported were 'unusually close to a linear trend' in the vast majority of the experiments, the whistleblower wrote. The chances of this happening were one in 508,000,000,000,000,000,000." The whistleblower took these claims to the UvA committee—and, later, the Netherlands' National Board for Research Integrity, which came to the "conclusion that research data must have been manipulated is considered unavoidable."

"I do feel like the victim of an incredible witch hunt," Förster wrote on the Retraction Watch blog.

► On Monday, we posted a Career Q&A with Amy Robinson, the creative director of the EyeWire citizen-science computer game. John Bohannon has more on the game, which "recruits volunteers to map out those cellular contours within a mouse’s retina," at ScienceNow. 

► For a Tuesday ScienceInsider post, Kai Kupferschmidt interviewed Christian Drosten, a virologist at the University of Bonn in Germany, who is "among those leading the effort to understand Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and contain the disease." The interview touched on authorship issues when Kupferschmidt wrote, "Others have charged that [Saudi Deputy Minister of Health Ziad Memish] demands to be a publication’s first or last author just in return for providing samples." Drosten's answer: Memish deserves it.

► On Wednesday at ScienceInsider, Eric Hand wrote about a spending proposal from the House of Representatives spending bill proposal that would spare several NASA programs that the White House budget request would scrap. Among the beneficiaries would be scientists involved with the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), a joint mission between NASA and Germany’s space agency. The House proposal would also allow NASA to keep all its aging planetary explorers; the White House "had essentially proposed defunding two of the missions—the Opportunity Mars rover and the 5-year-old Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter."

► Another House committee is "moving to block" the closure of a laboratory where scientists study a piece of our own planet, according to a Wednesday ScienceInsider post by Puneet Kollipara. The proposal would save the jobs of 108 employees and contractors.

► Also Wednesday at ScienceInsider, Hristio Boytchev reported on the latest development in the battle of a German neuroscientist against a campaign by animal-rights activists. While the work of neuroscientist Andreas Kreiter, a professor at the University of Bremen who researches the neurophysiology of the macaque brain, has met fierce resistance since the 1990s, the hostility reached an all-time high last April when a full-page ad against him and his work ran in national newspapers. This week, the scientific community came out in Kreiter’s support when the Alliance of Scientific Organizations in Germany issued a "sharply worded" article stating that the ad " 'crudely hurts the personal rights' of the scientist" and "defames biomedical research as a whole," Boytchev wrote. Kreiter’s university has filed libel charges against the activists’ organization.

► Why can't we all just be friends? Last Friday at ScienceInsider, Tania Rabesandratana reported that in the United Kingdom, animal researchers and animal-rights activists both approve of a proposal by the U.K. government that would scrap outdated confidentiality rules and make animal research more transparent. Their reasons for supporting the change differ, of course: Activists see the new policy as a way to better scrutinize animal research; researchers see it as a way of educating the public. Wendy Jarrett, chief executive of a London-based group called "Understanding Animal Research," says that "Explaining what really goes on inside labs is the best way to counter the sometimes hysterical claims of so-called animal rights activists."

►This week's NextGen VOICES survey asks, "What is the most challenging ethical question facing young investigators in your field? How should it be addressed?" Responses must be submitted by 16 May. The best responses will be published in the 4 July issue of Science.

Top Image: NASA

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