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Korean researcher fired for fraud

A South Korean scientist who once said he wanted "to become another Hwang Woo-Suk for Korea" has come ironically close to his goal. Kim Tae-kook, a bioscience professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in the central South Korean city of Daejeon, was suspended on Friday for fabricating data in two papers, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). linkurl:One of the papers;http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/309/5731/121, published in Science in 2005, deve

By | March 3, 2008

A South Korean scientist who once said he wanted "to become another Hwang Woo-Suk for Korea" has come ironically close to his goal. Kim Tae-kook, a bioscience professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in the central South Korean city of Daejeon, was suspended on Friday for fabricating data in two papers, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). linkurl:One of the papers;http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/309/5731/121, published in Science in 2005, developed a technique for identifying molecular targets in human cells, and has been cited 34 times, according to ISI. linkurl:The second paper;http://www.nature.com/nchembio/journal/v2/n7/abs/nchembio800.html, published in Nature Chemical Biology in 2006, proposed ways of manipulating human cells to increase their lifespan. That study has been cited 5 times. The fraud was first reported by one of Kim's postgraduate students, after the student tried and failed to replicate the experiments. Further investigation indicated that Kim deliberately "manipulated microscopic photos to fabricate study results," Lee Gyun-Min, KAIST's head of biological sciences, told the AFP on Friday. KAIST has notified both journals about the findings. In 2005, linkurl:Hwang Woo-Suk resigned;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22870/ from Seoul National University, after an investigation showed that data in his 2004 paper in Science, in which he allegedly extracted stem cells from the first cloned human embryos, had been fabricated.
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Comments

March 4, 2008

On the one hand, fraud was discovered and will now be corrected, the perpetrators punished. On the other hand, if such major journals as Nature or Science could be fooled, imagine how many times they were fooled and not caught? Or in less major journals, that could still make an academic career?\n\nBecause that is the other hand. What are the pressures that make fabrication more likely? Those pressures have not been diminished and determined massagers of the truth will only get more clever.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 7

March 4, 2008

As usual, the ultimate responsibility for publishing honest data rests with the varacity of the individual. Having seen the consequences of lying about the results of high profile studies by one of South Korea's rising stars still did not prevent this researcher's fabrication of data. What else can one say in this matter!!
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anonymous poster

Posts: 2

March 4, 2008

Perhaps the several recent reports about scientific fraud should sound some alarms within the life sciences community (and certainly other fields as well) that more checks and balances are needed. I'm not sure how this might be achieved. But, I do think that fraud destroys something precious; trust. It casts suspicion on the whole field, not only to scientific peers but also to the general public, who are uncertain or distrustful of science anyway. \n\nPublications have become the goal of scientists rather than the thrill of discovery or the pursuit to further knowledge. Maybe we need to re-think the values that we expect 'good' scientist to have.
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

March 4, 2008

Perhaps this is a sign that self interest in academia is not so different than it is in industry. Many sectors of industry have additional checks, balances, audits, and controls around research (and operations). There is no perfect system, but there are numerous ways to improve upon the existing one.\n\n
Avatar of: Ellen Hunt

Ellen Hunt

Posts: 199

March 4, 2008

I second the question about how often journals are fooled by researchers. I know of several cases that have not been made public despite NIH DOI being informed because the statute of limitations ran out. It is now set at 6 years. But in addition to that, there are quite a few reasons why such things get quashed. A few reasons are: \n\n- They are embarassing to those related to them on the fraudulent and other publications. \n- Staff in the lab will lose their jobs or graduate student status. \n- Universities will get black eyes. \n- Retaliation can occur from friends of the accused, and from the accused themselves. \n- A perception that "everybody does it." \n\nIf science wants to deal with it, then we must all get serious about it. \n\n-We should deliberately educate graduate students and post-docs that exposing it is a responsibility. \n\n-Any chair or dean accused of misconduct should be removed immediately as a matter of course regardless of outcome. \n\n-Any post-doc or graduate student exposing misconduct should be given preference and helped by their institution to get a new position, not left twisting in the wind. (Generally it means leaving.) \n\n-The statute of limitations should be revised to 20 years by NIH. \n\n- A system of random complete audits of laboratories funded by NIH should be instituted that includes undercover placement of post-docs and graduate students as investigators. This data should be published. \n\n- Complaints received by NIH DOI should be published each year, along with disposition.
Avatar of: tian xia

tian xia

Posts: 34

March 4, 2008

That was about 2 years ago in Hawaii, a good place, he was one of the invited speaker. He was talking about his Magic beads, they are antibody conjugated magnetic beads to pull down signaling molecules so that they are on one plane and then he can do confocal to figure out the signaling pathways. Some of the confocal images, I could not see anything but he claimed there was something there. I also checked his publications, a recent Science paper, a resume of Harvard, Cold Spring Harbor, etc. My feeling at that time was that is almost too good to be true. But I was like whatever. It is funny that at that time, his compatriats, Huang was making big news and people were talking about that at the conference. Now looking back, they have the same magnetic signaling pathways almost at the same time.
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anonymous poster

Posts: 6

March 5, 2008

I have just finished revising and updating my reference data base. I have, in the course of transferring 500 references from one data base to another discovered six instances of the same paper being published twice, same data, similar abstracts, same author list, two different journals. A nice boost to the CV at no extra effort or expense. A senior researcher has clearly been prepared to put their name to these examples of, shall we say, "unethical" behaviour so why should the junior researchers object to getting a double dip that will further their careers, if the professor doesn't mind why should they?
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

March 5, 2008

indeed there is almost no audit or verification done on the academic research. Also the caliber of a researcher in academia is judged based on the number of paper published in the journal of repute. I feel this makes the researchers to fake/manupulate their research data.
Avatar of: null null

null null

Posts: 4

March 5, 2008

It is very worrying. Dishonesty in research requires a raft of preventative measures such as study registration, and right to easy access of raw data by other researchers.\n\nI suspect that this is the tip of a rather large iceberg. An iceberg that runs from ignorant statistical misrepresentation to blatant fabrication.\n

March 5, 2008

While I agree with most of the comments, I would like to add another dimension to this debate and that has to do with education. I view the development of a scientist along a continuum starting way back to early parenting, schooling through high school and postgraduate training.\n\nI have noticed less and less rigor in the basic and fundamental approaches to formal learning. Original thinking and writing are to be more encouraged and nurtured in our schools such that students take more ownership and pride in their abilities to contribute original ideas and build on a scholarly and ethical approach during their more mature years at university. In the era of "information tsunami" our young students find it often hard to resist the temptation of allowing existing information and work by others to blind their own potential creativity; this can eventually lead to a laissez-faire attitude towards scientific rigor and personal ethics.\n\nAlthough high ethical standards in scientific research can and should be taught formally at the postgraduate level, ideally the process has to begin during the early developmental growth phase to ensure there is a solid base on which to build on. \n\n\n\n
Avatar of: anonymous poster

anonymous poster

Posts: 1

March 7, 2008

This is because of enormous pressure of the professors. It doesn't mean somebody has to steal food if he doesn't have money. We should be honest while we are revealing. Of course I should say that professor had back luck as many of us are doing faking things and publishing the same date with changing the title. If the scientists are not maintaining honesty, then can think about the Industry??\nScientist should be a chain between the current society (include the funding agency) and Industry. Both of them always will ask more production by publishing or more patent. But we are the people to know that limit. Think about thousands of people who are doing really great job even in KAIST and Korea. By this kind of silly mistake can a student get a good recognition? Whenever the student will go for further research you know the question which she/he has to face. Do you know That professor who manipulate the date?? Doing mistakes would be very small thing, but to recover it takes years..... \n

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