What Happens to Bad Scientists?

Daniel Engber in Slate:

051216_exp_hwang_tnSuperstar stem-cell researcher Hwang Woo Suk was accused of major scientific fraud on Thursday. A collaborator now claims Hwang faked much of the data for the groundbreaking research he published in May; earlier in the week, a co-author from the University of Pittsburgh withdrew his name from the work. Investigations are now underway in Pittsburgh and Seoul. How do you investigate scientific misconduct?

First, interview everyone who might be involved. In the United States, research institutions conduct their own inquiries into scientific wrongdoing. If the allegation seems credible, a small committee will spend up to a month quietly looking into the matter. They’ll talk to witnesses—most likely members of the lab, collaborators, and the person who made the charge—before confronting the accused researcher with the charges against him. If the committee decides there’s reasonable evidence for misconduct, the issue passes to a larger committee for a formal investigation.

More here.  Also this from Scientific American:

With considerable disappointment, the editors of Scientific American are immediately removing Dr. Woo Suk Hwang from his honored position as Research Leader of the Year on the 2005 Scientific American 50 list.

Dr. Hwang famously announced in Science last June that he and his team at Seoul National University in Korea had cloned human embryonic stem cells from 11 patients. Published accounts appearing this morning, however, report that one of his co-authors, Dr. Sung Il Roh, now says that Dr. Hwang admits that much of the evidence in his Science paper was faked. He further alleges that Dr. Hwang has asked Science to withdraw that paper. Dr. Hwang was not available for comment.

More here.