The 1%: journal manuscripts with serious image falsification

How common a problem is data-image falsification in journal articles?  Rockefeller University Press and the Office of Research Integrity have separately collected data showing that falsification of data-images occurs in 1% of their cases. Journal of Cell Biology.  Liz Williams, PhD, executive editor of JCB, reported in March that, after screening of images in accepted articles, 1% of the articles are found to have falsified images and acceptance was revoked.  As an example, JCB had the following data for 2002-2011:

3341 accepted papers; all images were screened for inappropriate manipulation

531 papers:  the journal requested the original images for examination

35 papers:  acceptance was withdrawn because of falsification of images

This means, she concluded, that without screening the JCB would have published four papers each year with falsified images. Office of Research Integrity.  Likewise, John Krueger,PhD, Scientist-Investigator at the federal Office of Research Integrity, reported that data from American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Blood, and Journal of Biological Chemistry also showed that 1% of accepted manuscripts were found to have serious image falsification.  He went on to note that this 1% represents $300M in research funding. Liz Williams and John Krueger spoke at the March 20, 2012, meeting of Science Online NYC (SoNYC), sponsored by Nature.com.

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