Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Human Stem Cell Cloning Paper Contains Reused Images

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the novel-method-for-saving-some-time dept.

Science 38

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.''"

cancel ×

38 comments

Misleading headline (2)

walmass (67905) | about a year ago | (#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

Re:Misleading headline (3, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#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?

Re:Misleading headline (1)

sanman2 (928866) | about a year ago | (#43827569)

reusing a ruse is rude

Re:Misleading headline (4, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Misleading headline (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year ago | (#43823933)

That poster's peer review sucked.

Re:Misleading headline (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a year ago | (#43825217)

That poster's peer review sucked.

I guess that is inevitible when Woo Suk Hwang is involved.

Re:Misleading headline (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43823133)

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.

Re:Misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43825107)

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

RTFA.
In 2004, image errors led to discovering fabricated data.
In 2013, there are image errors, which has cast some suspicion on it due to the 2004 incident.

Re:Misleading headline (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | about a year ago | (#43825707)

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 people rush to their pitchforks, we need to realize that this was just an editing error, not an attempt to falsify data or cover something up. The real issue here is that the paper was clearly not reviewed properly before being published. A proper review process would have caught this error. This is important because there has, in the past, been fraud in this area. If the review process doesn't even catch innocent mistakes then how will it be able to catch real fraud in the future?

Isn't it obvious? (2, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43822967)

They found the "Cloning" feature in Photoshop, and said: "Hey, someone else has already done the research for us! How convenient."

They're not reused (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43822997)

They're cloned!

In case you're wondering (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about a year ago | (#43823047)

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.

Re:In case you're wondering (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#43823125)

but the incident does raise concerns about papers not being properly edited or reviewed before acceptance.

Perhaps the "editors" use to work for Slashdot?

Re:In case you're wondering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43823223)

It isn't the responsibility of reviewers or editors to ensure correctness or to catch fraud. The primary responsibility of editors and reviewers is to check whether a paper is potentially interesting to the readers of a journal. Its correctness is then determined by the community.

Re:In case you're wondering (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43823247)

It isn't the responsibility of reviewers or editors to ensure correctness or to catch fraud. The primary responsibility of editors and reviewers is to check whether a paper is potentially interesting to the readers of a journal. Its correctness is then determined by the community

I've no idea what science community you work in, but in mine reviewer sure as hell check that the logic of the paper is correct. Sure, you can't redo the experiment to test everything for correctness, but the paper itself should be free of error and self consistent as well as being consistent with the reference used. I miss labeled figure certainly should be cause by the editors or reviewers.

Re:In case you're wondering (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about a year ago | (#43823303)

Yes. Of course. That's why there's such a big deal being made about the fact that it only took four days to be accepted, nowhere near enough to have done the job properly.

Re:In case you're wondering (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#43823555)

It isn't the responsibility of reviewers or editors to ensure correctness or to catch fraud. The primary responsibility of editors and reviewers is to check whether a paper is potentially interesting to the readers of a journal. Its correctness is then determined by the community.

You vastly overstate the actual situation.

Reviewers are not expected to reproduce the author's work, but they are expected to check whether the authors did their homework, conformed to well known facts, provided sources for other claims, identified and justified assumptions, followed good experimental procedure, drew logical conclusions from their observations, and stated enough information in the paper so that readers can determine that all that stuff was actually done.

Unfortunately, reviewing is almost always voluntary work (something academic scientists are expected to do as part of their job, but far from top priority), so there is a tendency to get lazy and do a not-so-careful review, or delegate it to a graduate student, with a result that things that should have been caught sometimes aren't.

Working against that is the fact that the publisher usually gets 3-5 reviewers, so some catch what others miss.

You are correct, however, that going through this formal phase of peer review doesn't make a paper's claims true, and the post-publication peer review never really ends for a good paper. For example, people are still chewing on stuff Einstein published 100 years ago.

Re:In case you're wondering (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#43823349)

So far, nobody is accusing the authors of intentional wrongdoing

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

Re:In case you're wondering (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about a year ago | (#43823463)

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.

Re:In case you're wondering (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#43823501)

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.

Anonymous reader? (1)

cloudmaster (10662) | about a year ago | (#43823061)

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.

Re:Anonymous reader? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#43823157)

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 not reused. (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year ago | (#43823063)

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

Appropriate image Reuse is Common (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43823065)

In print media applications recyclable images are called "stock photos", or "file photos".

In sciences the parameters are narrower: Where original research is the immediate subject using images not presenting the subject research, including "photoshopped", for whatever reason, would be inappropriate, but where background information is being presented to frame the original research presentation in context, stock images (but not "photoshopped" ones) would be aceptable and appropriate. Why screw around and waste time making new standard images when you have original work to do?

On the other hand some sciences have become prdominantly crap-hoopla "sciences" because "computer-enhancing" (the more correct term for "photoshopping") has become accepted as "necessary to hold public interest". Viz astronomy, where you never will see through a telescope the "in breathtaking color" images that are presented as what an astronomer sees.

And people trust "climate scientists"?!?!? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43823119)

Climate scientists have comitted much much bigger hoaxes and no one questions their results.

Actually... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#43823159)

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

... they were cloned from stem photos.

I thought Cell was a respectable rag. (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#43823179)

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.)

Re:I thought Cell was a respectable rag. (1)

pepty (1976012) | about a year ago | (#43825205)

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.

Slanty-eyed ripoff artists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43823239)

Yet again, eastern shysters faking shit instead of doing actual work.

In their quest for recognition, they've given a black eye to the entire scientific community.

Luckily there are people in said community who have enough integrity to bring these yellow bastards' shenanigans to light.

Publication time are a lie (1)

venicebeach (702856) | about a year ago | (#43823399)

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 take the reviewers' comments and submit again anew". That way they can count the re-submission as a new submission and their time from submission to publication is shorter since it is measured from the time of re-submission. It's an intentional obfuscation of the actual time it takes to publish something.

Re:Publication time are a lie (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#43823617)

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's a non-issue.

OTOH, if the first gap was only 4 days, there is cause for alarm. The publisher has to do a little preprocessing to figure out who would be appropriate reviewers, write them, wait for them to respond, try again if too many say no (or don't bother responding at all), then get the paper to the reviewers and allow them enough time to review it (often a month or more).

Re:Publication time are a lie (1)

venicebeach (702856) | about a year ago | (#43824673)

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.

Re:Publication time are a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43824937)

Many journals (including, I think, all the Elsevier journals of which Cell is one) are only reporting the time from the last revision to acceptance, so the 4 days thing is nothing to be alarmed about.

Misconduct in science is commonplace (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43823487)

"Liz Williams, editor of the Journal of Cell Biology, says her publication rejects around 1% of peer-reviewed scientific papers after discovering that microscope images have been doctored to make results look good."
Source:
http://www.economist.com/news/technology-quarterly/21572915-digital-imaging-insurers-publishers-law-enforcement-agencies-and-dating-sites-are

Cloning photos!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43823621)

Didn't read the article, don't care - cloning others pictures made me smile.

Image reuse is common. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43826337)

Image reuse is common in scientific publications. Authors know to ask permission from the original creator and it is almost universally granted.

Yes, the review was hasty, and more (1)

Foske (144771) | about a year ago | (#43826377)

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. The novelty in the paper most likely is based on the fact that all references to anything that is better or nearly as good are carefully avoided. Been there, done that (not voluntarily).

Papers: one of the main reasons why I quit my previous job. There is interesting stuff in some of them, but you have to go through so much crap that it's impossible to find.

Centralized journal club database!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43826577)

This is a great idea. Why didn't think of it? This pubpeer is like a centralized database of journal club comments. It seems similar to the arXiv but contains every article ever published. In our lab journal club we always have comments that never make it beyond the walls of the conference room and we always decide a paper is crap. I always thought it would be great to have the authors input on our comments. I'll be posting our comments next week. Would be great if this site catches on and everyone did the same.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...