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RIKEN Review Yields Corrections

An institution-wide investigation into labs at the Japanese research institute results in three corrections to papers published in Molecular and Cellular Biology between 2005 and 2010.

By | June 22, 2014

WIKIMEDIA, JULOOne month after RIKEN President Ryoji Noyori called for all the labs at the institute to review their published works for evidence for plagiarism, image manipulation, or other improprieties, problems are beginning to be uncovered and addressed. Three corrections appearing in the July issue of Molecular and Cellular Biology fix issues related to images in papers published by developmental geneticist Haruhiko Koseki and colleagues in 2005, 2006, and 2010.

On June 2, RIKEN announced preliminary findings from its investigation into papers stemming from the lab of Koseki, who was part of the original committee investigating the stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) work of Haruko Obokata, also a RIKEN researcher. A scandal surrounding Obokata’s work, which involved data manipulation, alongside other accusations of scientific fraud aimed at RIKEN researchers had prompted the institution-wide investigation.

According to correction notices in Molecular and Cellular Biology, composite images within two separate papers on which Koseki was the corresponding author have been corrected by the addition of lines delineating panels. The authors corrected images within another publication to distinguish noncontiguous portions of the same figure. According to the notices, the changes did not affect the conclusions of the three studies.

“The reason his papers were looked at (by somebody) is because he was a member of the investigation committee, but the papers themselves are not related at all to the Obokata issue,” RIKEN spokesperson Jens Wilkinson told The Scientist in an e-mail.

In its statement outlining these changes made by Koseki’s team, RIKEN said that the image issues did not constitute research fraud.

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