Filed under: Science
Fraud? Suicide? Blackmail? Perhaps a bad plot line in a daytime soap opera? Nope, just an edition of Science. Though a “typical” paper wouldn’t be retracted from the journal, a misleading paper is hardly unusual. What most forget is that big name journals, just as much as the small players, go for readership, often publishing science for its ‘sexy’ factor rather than for accuracy or quality. But who can blame them in the dying business of journalism?
Zhiwen Zhang and company, current and former post-docs of Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, may be involved in said fraud, having introduced “unnatural” amino acids into proteins, a process that other scientists could not replicate. Yet, they claim this is “good” science, something they still stand by after retracting two 2004 papers from Science and JACS.
After Zhang’s work was questioned by reviewers, his notebooks “disappeared,” he couldn’t reproduce his original work and he was blackmailed for $4000. Huh. Seems to me that this is an open/shut case. With some celebrity science per issue in major journals, this case hardly seems out of the ordinary; someone merely pointed out an inaccuracy, a major one. Zhang stills claims that his science was correct, that others are out to get him…but, at this point, who believes?
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