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Detecting fraud at journals

Many editors are considering measures to check for signs of misconduct in submissions

Don Monroe
Last year's discredited Science article on cloned stem cell lines presented now-obvious signs of fraud, such as claims that images of the same cells came from different patients -- raising many questions about what journals can do to find fraud before it's published. Although editors maintain that no practical procedures will find all instances of scientific fraud, many journals are nevertheless investigating ways to screen submissions for signs of misconduct.There is little doubt who will win this "arms race," said computer scientist Hany Farid, of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, who has helped journals detect image tampering. "It's much easier to manipulate technology than to detect it." Still, with appropriate screening, "we can take it out of the hands of the novice," he told The Scientist.One practical step journals are taking involves looking for modification of individual images. The Journal of Cell Biology, for one, has...

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