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Obokata apologizes for mistakes but says her conclusions were accurate

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By Kyoko Hasegawa

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Here we go again! Make a mistake,deny making a mistake,then hold a press conference to apologize for making a mistake,shed a tear or two then attempt to be humble and all will be forgotten!

-5 ( +9 / -14 )

Hope she comes up with the goods eventually. She can cry on my shoulder until then.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

“To many people there may be too many unbelievable mistakes, but that does not affect the conclusion,” she said.

Err, seriously?

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Haruko Obokata, holds your hand up, no excuses, you believed your own publicity, go back to the beginning and start again.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Haruko-san, if you are reading this ....Stay in there...you're just flying through some turbulence. You're young and can still continue to contribute to mankind. Brush those jealous colleagues off your shoulders. At least you know who your enemies and distractors are now. Proceed carefully and smile smile smile.

0 ( +12 / -12 )

There's a job for her at Royal Host.

-9 ( +11 / -19 )

I feel sorry for Haruko Obokata, she is unlikely to get justice and may end up as Future Tv "talent.".

0 ( +8 / -8 )

Millions in research dollars, valuable laboratory assets, countless man-hours spent by researchers all wasted because you fabricated data. If your conclusions are correct, why didn't you prove it with actual data?

8 ( +16 / -8 )

Indeed, Obokata might have made some fatal mistakes, and on top of that, her academic integrity is definitely questionable. Nevertheless, I do think that she should be given a second chance to continue her research work after being reprimanded for her misconducts.

4 ( +13 / -9 )

"I apologize with my whole heart to my co-authors… and many others for causing trouble because of my insufficient efforts, ill-preparedness and lack of skill"

The lady doth protest too much, methinks...

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I work with scientists. There is research and it's results, and there is how it is reported - the two do not necessarily coordinate. The fact that she is standing behind the former is encouraging. I hope that she is correct and that the years she has spent on this labor will bear fruit.

21 ( +22 / -1 )

On that level there should NO mistakes made in any reasearch results. Perhaps she is a little young and however capable, just does not have enough experience to deal with this world class breakthrough. She stated her reason for the presentation as written as easy to understand. Well, it wasn't necessary to do this, as the papers will be reviewed by international experts and a easy explaination doesn't matter in this case. Perhaps she is covering for her renegade researchers which, as leader is responsible for their actions.(?). I hope to find out before this young, however well-entended girl doesn't end up with a nervous break down.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

She will be vindicated.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

Haruko Obokata will be back, a little older but a lot wiser.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

I do think that she should be given a second chance to continue her research work after being reprimanded for her misconducts.

In principle this is of course the best way to conduct things, for it is a terrible waste to have someone trained as a PhD and then making them work at Royal Host. Having said this, science is all about trust. I do not believe it was the duty of the Nature peer reviewers to catch all that was wrong with the paper, certainly it is not their duty to replicate the results, although if they had felt that the protocols were not clear, they should have voiced these concerns. It could also be argued that Nature should have had a policy of checking all images for manipulation, like some other but not all major journals in cell biology, but they might have (monetary) reasons not to do this.

Much in the same way, Obokata as the corresponding and lead author of the paper was likely the one to do most of the actual experiments. The others' scientific contribution might have been in suggesting the type of experiments, or helping in writing the paper, for example. If Obokata produced feasible data and her protocol made sense, there was no reason why all the other authors of the study would absolutely have to have replicated these potentially costly experiments themselves. Senior researchers often don't bother themselves with actual labwork, anyway, but prefer their roles as administrators and enablers of science. I have several friends who have gotten their names on papers for helping to write routines that fit data to curves, something that took them an hour tops, and yet others that have translated papers to English and got themselves a co-authorship for doing so. While one can argue that they did provide scientific input (and one could also argue that their contribution is not large enough to warrant authorship), it is not reasonable to expect that these people would actually understand what is being written in the paper.

It is very easy to fabricate claims in science because one assumes that others are presenting their data in good faith. Now one always worries about other researchers' competence and understanding, but rarely about whether they have directly altered their data. Now because it is so easy to make false claims and so difficult to get caught, the punishment for getting caught should be a strong deterrent. Most countries ban a researcher found to have fabricated data from applying for governmental grants for a number of years, effectively ending their careers. Often employments are also terminated. Some people have managed careers out of faking research, http://retractionwatch.com, and were recently caught only after their deaths, for they never tried for the high impact Nature papers.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Obokata needs to remember,it's not what you know,it's what you can prove.So if you can, show us,not tell us.She's basically in denial,but also a scapegoat to some degree.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

If she made STAP cells 200 times, others can make them.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I don't think the young woman is in denial, and I do strongly believe she needs to be allowed to return to the lab to prove her points. There is no other way, and frankly, that's the best discipline for her. If I was the head of RIKEN, I'd say, 'the disciplinary hearing is hereby postponed - not cancelled - so get back at it and publish something we can all be proud of.' Yessir, that's what I'd say.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

She's guilty as hell,

but there are others as well.

For those of you who can read Japanese,

have a look at this please:

http://stapcells.blogspot.jp/

It seems 23 others at Waseda are guilty of using cut and paste.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

lambda, Your lengthen explanations make whole lot sense to me.

In addition, I’d like to add a bit more to the discusssion here. In order to be forgiven, Obokata should sincerely and openly admit her wrongdoings/mistakes and ask forgiveness instead of playing the denial and victim cards. Case in point, during Watergate scandal, former American President Richard Nixon tried to deny his wrongdoings and obstructed the justice, in the end, he became his own victim of shrewdness.

Some orgs and people should step out to help Obokata to handle the damage control now; otherwise, I am afraid that she may go beyond the return-point if she continues her current route.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Great post Lambda.

While she might have actually done what she said, she has zero credibility. Why she hasn't been stripped of her PhD at this point is beyond me. Why Waseda isnt being hung out to dry is also beyond me. With that, why on earth does she still have a job when you consider a) you can't trust her, b) she violated research ethics with her copy and paste job not only on this but also her PhD and c) she hasn't come up with anything to prove she's done this 200 times. I watched the news tonight. She's got notes. Where's the proof?? If this was me being questioned, I'd be in a lab (thought certainly not in an apron) showing the boys I was right and they were wrong.

I hope she's right for the sake of humanity but sorry, she has no business holding onto her PhD nor holding a job in research after all this. I'm sure someone will hire her as a prof somewhere with just an Masters. This speaks volumes about "academia" in this country. How many eggs on faces does this country have to suffer through to sort out their academic and reseach system?

0 ( +6 / -6 )

"my insufficient efforts, ill-preparedness and lack of skill"

I was a researcher and I wrote a couple of articles, so to say that is kinda a Scientific suicide, how would she ever get funding for future research by saying that? the Ph.D would not be enough because, if you say that you are not prepared or lack skill but your result are still good how can anyone believe you?

Kinda weird that if all she wanted was to "make her paper easier to understand" or a friendly-reading article, the journal she chose was not adequate for that, scientific. Indexed journals care for the veracity and accuracy of the results, more than the "friendly" version, but I don't know if you'd give another chance. I wish that the investigation prove only inexperience in SHOWING results, not that the results were fabricated, that way, she could start again...

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Yes, I agree with Wildwst. She can continue her ground breaking research and eventually reach her lofty goals. Until then she can make my miso soup in the morning. Note to music: cue to start the song, Blurred Lines!

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Her original paper was rejected by Nature when it was submitted in April 2012. Was there any pressure on Nature to accept the paper? Nature's Japan office has openly stated that they are keen to attract more Japanese authors to submit their papers.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

My high-school son knows that he can not copy and works of others and present them as his in his biology projects. I would have thought a PhD would know that? Even a cute looking one?

2 ( +6 / -4 )

her ground-breaking conclusions on stem cells were accurate.

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Forget about PhD. The result of her stem cell research should be evaluated more. That is an important field.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I'm on Obokatas side! Screw the mainstream science community! They have become way too arrogant. Make a small mistake and you're painted as the black sheep by them.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

For those of you who do not know much about scientific research what Obokata did is pretty much par of the course in research.

In a study in 2012 65% of the 2000 papers studied were retracted because of poor ethical judgement. In light of these findings, researchers and other observers have proposed several initiatives to help the scientific community with its apparent honesty issues.

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/33695/title/Top-Science-Scandals-of-2012/

I hope she is reprimanded, but her co-authors too need to be shown the whip as well. As far as I know they are all bio-chemists, so they cannot exactly plead ignorance. I would find it a bit too convenient if she was the only one to be shown the door.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@beoqwulf" I hope she is reprimanded, but her co-authors too need to be shown the whip as well. As far as I know they are all bio-chemists, so they cannot exactly plead ignorance. I would find it a bit too convenient if she was the only one to be shown the door.

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Phd thesis used to be done with the candidate. I did not know it changed to have co-author now in Japan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Typical Japanese to blame youth and inexperience rather than poor judgement and failure to follow protocol to justify a gaffe. The reason why people respect science is because it's independent of an individual's age or experience and reliant a common STANDARD that can be tested.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's clearly obvious that the inner circle of Oyaji Doctors find it insulting that a gifted 30 Year Old Scientist made the breakthrough discovery of STAP Cell Research I often coin as "Immortality" that they have failed to deliver in the past and to cite her research as "Flawed" due to a breach in protocol is an unfortunate setback to this study.

I think RIKEN should move forward with Obokata and her research with STAP Cells (if you'd like to live longer and healthier).

BTW: If there is ever a need for a live human specimen to conclude that STAP Cells do work then give me a tap on the shoulder - I'm all for that immortality thing :)

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@ Lambda "I do not believe it was the duty of the Nature peer reviewers to catch all that was wrong with the paper, certainly it is not their duty to replicate the results, although if they had felt that the protocols were not clear, they should have voiced these concerns."

It certainly is the duty of peer reviewers to catch what was wrong (albeit before the article is published) and it should certainly be the duty of scientists to replicate the results. Results have got to be replicable. That's what the system of discovery through science is all about. And if you don't see that as a problem, perhaps you would like to buy a certain recipe I have for turning lead into gold. It worked for me, so... how about I give it to you for a lump sum of 2 billion dollars?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Cutie

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

I think there is a lot more to this event than we're hearing. I don't understand how a 30 year old Female Scientist in Japan was able to publish findings so easily without more scrutiny from her peers?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

lambdaApr. 09, 2014 - 09:01PM JST In principle this is of course the best way to conduct things, for it is a terrible waste to have someone trained as a PhD and then making them work at Royal Host. Having said this, science is all about trust. I do not believe it was the duty of the Nature peer reviewers to catch all that was wrong with the paper, certainly it is not their duty to replicate the results, although if they had felt that the protocols were not clear, they should have voiced these concerns. It could also be argued that Nature should have had a policy of checking all images for manipulation, like some other but not all major journals in cell biology, but they might have (monetary) reasons not to do this.

Do you have any idea how glaringly obvious the flaws in her paper were? From the first time I read it I could see that there was some stuff in it that just didn't add up (go back and you'll find my comments from when this issue first started and I raised questions about the research). Of course Nature's reviewers saw the errors... except that they didn't care, they only thing they cared about was that she had discovered a way to make STAP cells. Why? Because in science results matter and a little sloppy note-taking can be excused.

Much in the same way, Obokata as the corresponding and lead author of the paper was likely the one to do most of the actual experiments. The others' scientific contribution might have been in suggesting the type of experiments, or helping in writing the paper, for example. If Obokata produced feasible data and her protocol made sense, there was no reason why all the other authors of the study would absolutely have to have replicated these potentially costly experiments themselves.

Once again you display your complete lack of knowledge of the contents of the paper. Obokata's method is fast and cheap. This is precisely its appeal. If the other researchers didn't take the time to replicate the results then it was pure and utter laziness, not expense or large amounts of time.

Senior researchers often don't bother themselves with actual labwork, anyway, but prefer their roles as administrators and enablers of science. I have several friends who have gotten their names on papers for helping to write routines that fit data to curves, something that took them an hour tops, and yet others that have translated papers to English and got themselves a co-authorship for doing so. While one can argue that they did provide scientific input (and one could also argue that their contribution is not large enough to warrant authorship), it is not reasonable to expect that these people would actually understand what is being written in the paper.

... your friends lack any integrity at all. What they deserve is a polite mention at the end of the paper, not co-authorship.

Also, senior researchers should RESEARCH. Administrators administer. If nobel prize winning researchers are shuffling budget requests for pencils then there is something seriously wrong with the institute.

It is very easy to fabricate claims in science because one assumes that others are presenting their data in good faith. Now one always worries about other researchers' competence and understanding, but rarely about whether they have directly altered their data. Now because it is so easy to make false claims and so difficult to get caught, the punishment for getting caught should be a strong deterrent. Most countries ban a researcher found to have fabricated data from applying for governmental grants for a number of years, effectively ending their careers. Often employments are also terminated. Some people have managed careers out of faking research, http://retractionwatch.com, and were recently caught only after their deaths, for they never tried for the high impact Nature papers.

But you must PROVE the researcher fabricated the data. If Obokata can get back in the lab and replicate her results then it is everyone else who should be grovelling on their knees before her begging for forgiveness. Thus far there has been no evidence she fabricated anything. She mixed up some pictures, highlighted some spots on pictures for clarity and cut and pasted a routine lab procedure rather than trying to find some interesting new way to write it, and was sloppy in her note-taking. Prove she fabricated the data then I'll give you the time of day. Until then you're someone who hasn't even done Obokata the courtesy of reading her paper but believes they know enough to call her a liar an plagiarist.

-20 ( +4 / -24 )

Indeed, Obokata might have made some fatal mistakes,

Wow. I didn't realize somebody had died!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

(a) In research, you are usually at best just fingernails better in something than others. If you don't do something yourself and it is worth doing someone else will do it in a short time. Even if Einstein did not do something, somebody else would have done it in one or at most a matter of few years.

(b) Research is spread out and individuals go on individual missions. You need to assume that they try to do reasonably good job as it is pointless and costs too much to have to go around and verify anything that anybody has done.

Once the results of someone become questionable, i.e. others have to go and check his work, even if he is a bit better than others, he becomes too costly to the system to remain beneficial. If she can prove that her slips were just marginal flaws, she has a chance. Otherwise, she is pretty much done and the situation is leaning towards the latter for the reasons above.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Indeed, Obokata might have made some fatal mistakes, Wow. I didn't realize somebody had died!

She did, is a death in the scientific world...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

My read from her PC was that she no doubt made some cosmetic errors, but that her overall conclusion was truthful. Either that or she still is in a confirmation bias frame of mind.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The story sounds like a case of sour grapes to me.

Well done to her for standing up to the people trying to vilify her. I hope she is not discouraged from continuing. Her 'superiors' bullying behaviour may well have nipped some of her possible future findings/breakthroughs well and truly in the bud.

She may have been forced to do this farcical public apology, but at least she maintains she is right, which I think, took strength.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

If this is not case of her applying to Phd, her research will be valued in Stem Cell research field in the world.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

"Science is all about trust."

No it isn't. It's about producing verifiable results.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If the research can not be duplicated, it is BS. And more than Obokata, Riken is the problem. They were overseeing the research or were they.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is only her Hakase Ronbun - Phd Dissertation. She did not lie. She just omitted titles and names of reference articles. Remind you, when you present MS or MA ronbun-Essays, you could insert reference articles to prove your points. But this is not MS and MA type research. She should present her research to Stem Cell Research Gakkai - acaemic cirle- instead of Waseda U.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Well in a nutshell, she needs to demonstrate the stap cell technique with cameras rolling and observers looking over her shoulder, otherwise she's a liar. Simple as that

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Interesting that more isn't being made of the fact that RIKEN was just about to receive an "upgrade" from the government that would have given it mucho more yen. Not coincidence that Obokata is being thrown under the bus with such energy. This upgrade is now on hold.

That said, she was sloppy and definitely made mistakes. The fact that 300 Waseda PhDs are being examined for fabrications/sloppiness etc suggests this is rife in Japanese academia and that she, and other Japanese scientists, are poorly taught and not given the guidance and rigor they might need.

The truth here is somewhere in between. She's no innocent Joan of Arc, but the fury with which she's being vilified and hung out to dry is also worth questioning. Not to mention that she was being used like mad by RIKEN when the discovery was announced - why else was there so much crap out there about her Moomin-decals in the lab and her apron? RIKEN was making its case with the public for the extra funds.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In the July 2013 issue N0 4. of QBITS, the 8-page newsletter of Riken QBiC, there is a 2-page article on Nature and it's Tokyo office, discussing how the internet has changed the business model of publishing and the value Nature has for Japanese science, and how they had been trying to change the perception that publicising in Nature was difficult, and encourage more authors to submit their papers. It certainly happened, and their office has grown rapidly.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Seriously, how many male scientists would be exposed to this level of public humiliation? Where are the voices of her collaborators who endorsed the resarch?

Let's wait and see as she sets out to prove the conclutions once agan, fighting detractors and enemies. Great work Obokata.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

I am not reading any of the comments, but I assume that near half of them are in some degree against Dr. Obokata's position.

To those people, I say this. 1) It was a media conference, not a scientific forum, you want her to present proofs there where no one is remotely capable to understand the scientific procedures and related information for her research. So, if you expected fo her to present Scientific proofs of her current statements, you are the fools.

2) It is clear that the all guys with power, from Riken and every related Japanese scientific organization (from Tokyo University Professor to the Waseda students) who depend in some degree on RIKEN are going to line up together.

3) It is less common these days, but Japanese people tend to agree with the opinion or position of those with authority (old guys, politicians, and RIKEN geezers). You should know, most of you criticize that aspect of Japanese every day.

Yes, Dr. Obokata did make huge mistakes, but that is what humans do, we make mistakes. Aren't people with high moral standards able to forgive and go on? Why can you accept the apologies from her, a person with a LOT of pride on herself. Going public, after she has being criticized, attacked and even accused of lying, going in public apologizing for her lack of abilities/knowledge and going against the core of the Japanese Scientific Society... well you at least have to give her the benefit of doubt and even try to stay neutral on this and not bashing her.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

"Seriously, how many male scientists would be exposed to this level of public humiliation?"

How many male scientists would receive all the acclaim, support and media celebration that she received before the scandal broke, not to mention all the supportive comments on this thread?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Sue JonesAPR. 10, 2014 - 08:02AM JST Well in a nutshell, she needs to demonstrate the stap cell technique with cameras rolling and observers looking over her shoulder, otherwise she's a liar. Simple as that

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What is stap cell technique? Are you still thinking camera? Where have you been those years? You meant video coder? Dissertations are usually in wtitingd just like essays. No sense to cam-code to take pictures/

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Yes she 100% believes she did it despite the lack of evidence to back it up, maybe that's the problem in the first place.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

The double standards here annoys me.

Many of you are prepared to give her a second chance or forgive her because she is a young, pretty woman fighting some imaginary battle against "oyaji" academia. Would you be so forgiving if an old, male researcher had done the same?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In the first place I think that the nature paper should be retracted for the simple reason that it was badly written and does nothing to improve knowledge. Even if later is proven that STAP cell can be produced it will not be thanks to this paper so Obokata should not resist the retraction.

Secondly, the amount of proven problems with the manuscript pointed to 2 possibilities, intentional lies or strong incompetence, with this press conference she choose to present herself as incompetent, for her the result would be the same (no more scientific work for her, at least in big institutes) but leave open the possibility for the work to be true and hopefully later replicated and published correctly.

And last, unfortunately this kind of problem will keep happening as long as everybody position and funding depend so strongly on papers published in prestigious journals, researchers are pressured into trendy topics that everybody else is also investigating, then to find something important and flashy so it will be published in Nature or Science, and to do it all in a 3 year contract or say goodbye (and become jobless because everybody else is hiring only those that could get that Nature paper published). The professors are also pressured to ignore a few red signs in their labs in order to publish or else lose their budget. At the end of the day is a recipe for Scientific malpractice waiting to happen.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

How can you say there are mistakes but the results are correct?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The bias of leaning towards science in any case is strong here on JT, as the majority of comments show. I do hope that the mainstream science community as it exists today will eat itself. They have become far too arrogant and overly critical to be of benefit for humankind.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

So, she has bogus proofs for her results, and third parties can't reproduce it. There probably are thousands of little details that need to be discovered and clarified by those third parties, before her method starts functioning (if ever).

This raises a huge red-flag within the scientific community - as it is a common strategy for getting all the credits for making a discovery, while the actual work is done by third parties, and not you. One theoretically could write similar white bogus papers for other methods, hoping that somebody else clarifies all the details into making them work, crediting you as the actual discoverer - this actually has been done in the past, when scrutiny was not so high.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@MeanRingp: "It certainly is the duty of peer reviewers to catch what was wrong (albeit before the article is published) and it should certainly be the duty of scientists to replicate the results. Results have got to be replicable. That's what the system of discovery through science is all about. And if you don't see that as a problem, perhaps you would like to buy a certain recipe I have for turning lead into gold. It worked for me, so... how about I give it to you for a lump sum of 2 billion dollars?"

I never go and replicate the results of papers I review. I often have a week or two to respond and a mere replication would often take months and I would also have to build custom tools to do so. Nobody pays me for doing this (worse, I would spend money using my own resources) nor would my name appear anywhere should I find conflicting results, of course. Furthermore, while doing this I would be distracted from my own research. Nature, in particular, I believe runs with "high priority" review times, i.e. short ones. Not that I have ever been a referee for Nature (although other top journals, yes). It is for peer reviewers, from the clues given in the manuscript, to assess whether the study is feasible/valid and of high impact and quality, if the authors seem knowledgeable, and the presentation understandable.

As you pointed out, this all sounds like it is easy to get papers accepted to the scientific literature. It is. For example Jan Hendrik Schon, often called the biggest fraudster in science, managed to publish some 10 papers in both Nature and Science plus others in other high impact journals. If you follow RetractionWatch.com as I suggested, you'll find many many more contemporary examples as well (for example Shigeaki Kato at University of Tokyo). Some of this has only later been proved as fraud much after the fact when people in the field have learned of the tools of digital image forensics, for example.

Trust is a feature of science, and yes as more and more people have entered the field from countries near and far, it has become more of a problem. Of discrimination as well, for I have a friend who said that he finds it difficult to believe any of the claims from Chinese groups without foreign affiliations (for good reason, as in his field there have been many incidents of grandiose claims ending up as dead ends, or so he said). In science nobody gets paid two billion (or the equivalent, the Nobel prize) upfront. What scientists instead get is in a way immediate recognition for having a feasible way to turn lead into gold (like Obokata was heralded by the media as the next superstar of Japanese science), and they hope that in ten years time as other work cites theirs and thus its relevance has been showed, they get the prize. It often does not pay to fake data on game changing results others might want to replicate, for you won't be getting the citations in the long run (and worse, if you end up losing your reputation and are no longer trustworthy, science has no place for you).

There seems to be a max limit on post length, so I'l answer to Frungy later (also two consequtive posts are not allowed, so someone needs to post in between).

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Forget about PhD. The result of her stem cell research should be evaluated more. That is an important field.

It is. Which is why someone who did a copy and paste job on both her PhD and her article should and is being taken to task for sloppy research and poor ethics. Personally, I was really cheering for her at the beginning but the more that comes out, the more crocodile tears she cries... She's doing serious female reseachers a huge disservice.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@Frungy:"Do you have any idea how glaringly obvious the flaws in her paper were? From the first time I read it I could see that there was some stuff in it that just didn't add up (go back and you'll find my comments from when this issue first started and I raised questions about the research). Of course Nature's reviewers saw the errors... except that they didn't care, they only thing they cared about was that she had discovered a way to make STAP cells. Why? Because in science results matter and a little sloppy note-taking can be excused."

To answer you question, no I don't, and I think I have been very clear about the fact that I am not an expert in this field. However, this case has taken dimensions far beyond some technical details, and analyzing research ethics is by no means the domain of cell biologists alone.

Referees should point out even the smaller problems in a manuscript and then it lies with the editor to decide whether something should be done to address them. Due to the way peers reviewers are picked, it is however entirely possible that mistakes that are obvious to you might not have been picked up by the referees. Ultimately, you seem to be supportive of my main point that it is not the job of the reviewers to replicate the results, but rather look at their feasibility.

"Once again you display your complete lack of knowledge of the contents of the paper. Obokata's method is fast and cheap. This is precisely its appeal. If the other researchers didn't take the time to replicate the results then it was pure and utter laziness, not expense or large amounts of time."

"... your friends lack any integrity at all. What they deserve is a polite mention at the end of the paper, not co-authorship.

Also, senior researchers should RESEARCH. Administrators administer. If nobel prize winning researchers are shuffling budget requests for pencils then there is something seriously wrong with the institute"

Yes, I too think that my friends should have taken an acknowledgement instead of a coauthorship in the cases I described, but science is a job, after all, and one where one often counts the number of publications and as such I do understand why they would take coauthorship if so offered (I have never been so lucky, and have even missed out on some acknowledgements when I think I deserved them). In my friend's defence, while for him it took maybe 30 minutes to fit the curves with difficult analytical expressions, he probably sped up the research by several days. My examples were quite extreme, but if my friend had developed a new way of analysis instead of the simple curve fitting that he did, his scientific contribution would have been obvious, but he still would not have comprehended what the paper was about. I should mention that the people worked in the same scientific field (much more restricted and narrow than for example stem cells), but the materials they worked on were different, so much so that they didn't and couldn't follow each others' work. As you criticize taking authorship for curve fitting, one could easily argue that most labwork is supportive in nature, not directly contributing to the actual science. In the same vein, almost no papers warrant five authors or more. A lot of authorship has to do more with politics and creating incentives rather than who truly is responsible. I do not think there is anything wrong with this per se, it is a convention that everybody knows, and as such it means that not all authors are equal or should be required to understand the whole paper and much less to conduct all the experiments covered in the paper themselves.

As for senior researchers working, I wholly agree that their talent is wasted doing administrative tasks they often are not even good at. Yet, how many professors/lab heads do you know that actually spend time doing hands on research? Maybe a couple, but they are a rare breed (especially so when they have a lab of 30 people or so to manage funding and grants for). My point is that nobody expects the senior authors to know what exactly goes on in the wetworks, nor does anybody think that they would personally conduct a replication of collaborators. Next time you go to a conference and hear someone's speech, ask them about the specifics, or problems only someone who works the floor would know about, and I guarantee that most will not be able to counter. I know people (professors) with over a thousand publications, some nominated for the Nobel prize. That's bullshit and everybody knows it, and their contribution might often be even less than my friend's who fitted some curves. Strictly speaking, the lab heads should often get no more recognition for the research than a CEO gets his name on a patent, but so it goes.

"But you must PROVE the researcher fabricated the data. If Obokata can get back in the lab and replicate her results then it is everyone else who should be grovelling on their knees before her begging for forgiveness. Thus far there has been no evidence she fabricated anything. She mixed up some pictures, highlighted some spots on pictures for clarity and cut and pasted a routine lab procedure rather than trying to find some interesting new way to write it, and was sloppy in her note-taking. Prove she fabricated the data then I'll give you the time of day. Until then you're someone who hasn't even done Obokata the courtesy of reading her paper but believes they know enough to call her a liar an plagiarist."

She is a plagiarist, beyond doubt, for lifting dozens of pages without proper reference in her PhD thesis. Unlike what you say, I have been quite careful not to condemn her, saying that for the plagiarism she might have had valid, or at least understandable, reasons (although it still is unprofessional). The images in her paper were manipulated, apparently to enhance them. Again, very sloppy and something that does eat away on her credibility, but not necessarily anything done with bad intent. Furthermore, I have been very clear about the fact that I cannot evaluate the science for I am no expert, but have instead pointed out some ethical implications (one of my main concerns has been what ebisen wrote above). To me the case here represents just the most recent data point in the recent discussion about what is wrong with science (a recurring topic also in the mainstream media; even The Economist had this theme on their cover some months back).

What I have been saying (in the comment section of another piece of news, as you well know) is that her results have not been replicated by anyone despite numerous attempts, and that some respected researchers have even come out saying that they do not believe that STAP cells as described by Obokata exist. There is no way one can really show beyond any doubt that she fabricated the data. It can always have been due to something she accidentally left out of the records, something that maybe even she didn't realize she was doing. Only the replication attempts can give any indication of the truth, and whether the cells exist, and currently the data is stacked against her. I suppose I do agree with you in that she should be let into the lab to try replicating the data herself. Of course it would be great for her, and in the long run perhaps for the rest of us as well, if she does manage to pull it off.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I do not think she fabricated the results. Why? Because I do not think someone with a PhD from Waseda would be so naive as to fake a method that is supposedly easy to replicate in one of the leading journals on a subject that many would be eager to build up on. Then again, she did not seem to know that any image manipulation in cell biology nowadays will become quickly apparent if not by the journal's own screening, then by researchers posting on PubPeer etc.

I think it is possible that she somehow read too much into the data, and that what she got is in fact not what she claims, or thinks, she got. This, or she did a poor job explaining exactly how the cells were made. The latter is obviously the more positive case, and I am sure that everyone is hoping that this is indeed what happened. What is becoming increasingly clear is that the way she claims she made the STAP cells does not infact result in STAP cells. About a dozen independent labs have tried replicating the results, and failed.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This whole thing is just bizarre... and it's turning into a media circus... Predictable...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

A lot of authorship has to do more with politics and creating incentives rather than who truly is responsible.

"Publish or perish" has created a lot of issues - regardless of the research or topic. Screw teaching, screw advancements (for some), it's all about getting your name on a paper.

I do not think she fabricated the results. Why? Because I do not think someone with a PhD from Waseda would be so naive as to fake a method that is supposedly easy to replicate in one of the leading journals on a subject that many would be eager to build up on. I'm hoping she didn't but at this point, having a PhD from Waseda doesn't mean much, does it? They were very lax with who got out of their program with a PhD, clearly looked the other way with regards to sloppy research and plagarism and now has cast doubt on hundreds of other graduates. I don't think one can get to her level being that naive. More like, she learned to play the game and keep up with the big boys. Sadly, she seems to be the only one taking heat for all this when many more should be right next to her, facing the media and firing squad.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

The level of ignorance on these boards is not astounding, it is completely predictable. Her data is likely correct. Shes published many papers, including first authored papers, doubt she faked em all. Shes guilty of embellishing her data, but this is nothing more than all of them do. She is a disgrace for participating in this circus though and doesn’t deserve to be a scientist. Who did she think she was, the clown. Miss apron, no doubt flouting herself as the diva of science while giving a nice tearful show for TV. Save us the drama and join the throngs of other talentless self absorbed solid waste clogging up the airwaves. More of a story than her is the dirty geezers leading riken, along with the other so called leaders failing miserably at their responsibilities. Do they teach that science follows no set story based on ego? Do they follow unbiased thinking?no.these old fossils at riken sit around touting their own self perceived brilliance while participating and encouraging the very thing she did, making up stories that fit their narrow views, then throw her to the wolves and have the gall to take a father figure stance later, saying“she was inexperienced and tempestuous.” . and what an insult, chastising her, like they know better, sitting on their leathery arses in their offices after doing the same thing she did for decades. Did this fossil riken leader personally repeat her experiments? No. hasn’t even held a pipet in 20 years. Likely got his nobel based on decades of the same kind of huckster crrap. This is Japanese research? What a disgrace these so called riken leaders are. And what a priceless image of the so called brilliant nobel prizer bowing in shame, and shame is what he and other “leaders” at riken deserve. Yes, lets encourage tomorrows young scientists to be just as dishonest as ourselves shall we? Lets rack up those publications so we can show off how japan is so advanced. Truth be dammed. Lets Focus on our own bloated self importance at the expense of true science and at the expense of the students we mentor. Lets shirk our responsibility for mentoring and training tomorrows scientists correctly and instead pressure them to produce results, true or not. Laying on pressure to the point where one poor grad student at riken kills himself because one so called brilliant leader was too busy wallowing in his own perceived self importance to help in the student's time of need. Hows that feel boy, knowing your failure is costing lives, and reputations of young scientists. These so called leaders aren’t fit to clean toilets with toothbrushes, let alone publish their idiot opinions about things they don’t understand. She missed a golden opportunity to stick it to these pathetic waste of space geezers who preach about ethics but don’t have any themselves. But are we really surprised? This is japan.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Her papers said strong external stresses, such as a weak acid bath, could reprogram mouse lymphocyte cells into pluripotent cells, which can develop into different body organs and tissue.

The studies at the time were hailed internationally as a potential breakthrough in regenerative medicine. The Japanese media heaped praise on Obokata as a new star in Japan's scientific community. The topics covered included the kappogj apron that she wore during experiments and the painted walls of her lab.

However, her star quickly faded after doubts surfaced about the veracity of the STAP studies. Reports questioned the images she used, and allegations of plagiarism were raised concerning her doctoral dissertation at Waseda University.

Many suspicions arose because of my inadvertence, lack of knowledge and immaturity Obokata said in opening the news conference. I ended up causing troubles to many people. I extend my heartfelt apology.

Obokata's team of lawyers said the scientist has been receiving hospital treatment since April 7 for physical and mental distress. She was expected to return to the hospital after the news conference.

A day before the news conference, Obokata filed a formal objection with the Riken national research institute through her lawyers, calling for a reinvestigation and a withdrawal of its report that found wrongdoing in her research.

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Above I found. Riken wanted a full credit on her research? Somebody asked if she were half balded man. If so, he gets credit. If a girl, she has to be ignored? There was a time Japanese female who got Govt scholeorship to foreign country had to pledge that she will never marry. There was a lady scientist Kono Yasui who never married and died 91. There were many. Scientists or not, women employees had to pour tea to lesser ranked men at work every day. Women are not supposed to get credit on her works yet? Not supposed to get famous in international academic society?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

In science, the ends do not justify the means. Believe in your conclusions? GREAT! Then PROVE them!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Josh Brickman, of the Danish Stem Cell Center at the University of Copenhagen, says that although negative results should settle the issue, “a positive replication, or worse, a limited positive replication” would just lead to more questions. “I would not be surprised if stress-induced reprogramming ends up being partially reproducible — an extremely rare and fickle process,” he says. “If this is the case, it may become increasingly difficult to determine exactly what was right in the original papers.”

[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[

So, it is still checking. Hong Kong goup complained that they could not prove Obokuta result and that was the start of Obokuta attacks. It is beyond amatuer science commenters' discussion. That discussion, Obokubo apologized following Japanese custom.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Never forget! An accurate analysis will involve intensive tests.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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