Kyoto University says researcher at iPS institute falsified data for paper


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What is it with all the lying? Is it hubris that they will never get caught? Or pure laziness? Is it the need for publicity for more funding? Whatever the causes, it is really making Japan look weak, lazy and stupid.

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How did the fact that the figures were falsified come to light?

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If published research is not actually valid, it can’t be replicated. It delivers only an incidental finding, not scientific knowledge. Any subsequent findings based upon it will either be wrong or flawed in important ways.

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'Education' isn't going to stop anyone from falsifying results. Dishonest people are going to cheat as long as they can get away with it!

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When getting stuff published and accolades is more important than the actual subject of research, this is what happens. A lack of passion and respect for the tenants of science itself. Kyoto University. Really???

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and the media will make a big hoopla about it and people will act like they understand or care about the subject.

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Japan has produced some good research but the common practices here bring everything to question. Only in Japan will you find it common to have 4 to 6 authors on a 3000 word research paper. What does that tell you? Favors, or incompetence, or senpais forcing kohais to give them undeserving writing credit. With accepted practices like this, is lying on results surprising?

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This is a terrible blow to the reputation of Kyoto’s ips research center (CiRA), who must have known their work would be under intense scrutiny after the STAP debacle. That said, scientific misconduct is not higher in Japan than, say, the US, so cultural stereotyping is not really relevant here.

To some extent I feel that the whole idea of Nobel Prizes taints science in some way because it suggests there is something other than knowledge itself motivating scientists. This can put undue pressure on scientists (in all cultures) to overachieve.

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The paper in question is Stem Cell Reports 8(3), p634, 2017 and there are 10 co-authors in addition to Yamamizu (Shinji Yamanaka is not one of them). Each of the six figures contains many sub-figures (27 in fig. 1 alone) and it's hard to believe that Yamamizu made all of the figures himself.

The root cause is basically the same as the cause of the scandals in companies: unrealistic demands from management. These days university bosses are obsessed with their position in the global rankings. They all want to create a "global leading this", "world class that" institute. They tell us to publish in "prestigious" journals and we are given documents every year showing where we are in relation to others in the department (number of papers, number of citations, impact factor of journal etc.). For those on fixed-term contracts, which includes almost all new assistant and associate professors, they won't get a permanent position unless they publish a lot of papers. So some of them resort to making stuff up.

I wish the management and the education ministry would realise that you cannot have world-leading universities when the budget is cut every year and salaries never increase. That's just common sense, but it cannot be found among the bureaucrats here. It makes me laugh when I see academic jobs advertised that state they want dynamic, skilled staff, the best in the world, who can attract large grants, publish in top journals (and teach classes too). For such a fantastic person they are prepared to offer ... a fixed-term contract.

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How did the fact that the figures were falsified come to light?

The usual situation is that someone else (even from the same lab) is trying to replicate the experiment doing exactly the same protocol, with the same cells, same chemicals, same equipment, etc. and ends up getting a completely different result. Results that cannot be replicated by anybody else without any reasonable cause point to something fishy, the cheater now has to work under supervision to get again the results and the whole thing comes to light.

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Unfortunately, this kind of thing is extremely common in scientific research. It's just the tip of the iceberg.

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1/23/2018 6:14 a.m. EST Response to "MarkX": One scientist manipulation his data (read, LYING to the public, his colleagues and the world scientific community), does not make the Japanese look "weak, lazy and stupid". It gives you the opportunity to criticize his people, nation and culture en masse. One person, regardless of his heritage, does not represent everyone of his ilk. The Japanese are not, nor have they ever been, anything remotely akin to "weak, lazy, or stupid". Read your history! The Japanese created art, composed music, had a written language and were bathing daily, when our grunting ancestors were still clad in animal hides and swinging clubs at one another.

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