Nature Cell Biology on research integrity and accessibility

The cell biology literature contains manipulated data that distort findings, usually in an attempt to ‘beautify’ and, rarely, to commit fraud, states the September Editorial in Nature Cell Biology (11, 1045; 2009, free to read online) According to the Editorial, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, ‘Ensuring the Integrity, Accessibility, and Stewardship of Research Data in the Digital Age’, "arrives at no hard and fast rules; the panel found that different fields have quite different requirements. In the words of panel chairs Phillip Sharp and Daniel Kleppner, “the report provides a framework for dealing with the challenges to the community generated by the onrush of digital technology.” Nevertheless, the key tenets that researchers are responsible for ensuring the integrity and accuracy of their data and appropriate training in the management of research data, that all data and experimental details from papers be publicly accessible and carefully archived to allow verification and to facilitate future discoveries, and that field-specific standards have to be developed by researchers, funders, societies and journals, benefit from being spelled out in one document."

Many of the recommendations in the report already are the policy of Nature Cell Biology and the other Nature journals: the Editorial provides further information about these, including references to past Editorials, with particular emphasis on various aspects of data manipulation and plagiarism — which, although widely unrealised, extends to concepts as well as to copying text and illustrations.


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