Glasgow confirms academic’s papers were ‘falsified’

The University of Glasgow has finally confirmed that a former professor was found guilty of falsifying data in five papers by an investigation that ended last August.

May 20, 2013

Glasgow launched an inquiry in October 2011 into work carried out by Alirio Melendez between 2007 and 2010, when he was a senior lecturer and later professor of immunopharmacology at the institution.

Concurrent inquiries were also launched by the University of Liverpool, to which he moved in 2010, and the National University of Singapore, where he began his independent academic career.

The investigations, which examined all 70 of the papers he has published, were in response to the retraction of one of his papers from Nature Immunology, and an editorial expression of concern by Science about a 2010 paper.

After its investigation was concluded last August, Glasgow would only say that none of its current staff were implicated in any wrongdoing. However, the university has now confirmed that the investigation “found evidence that data had been fabricated or otherwise falsified for five publications”.

The statement adds that there are “strong suspicions” about data in a further 10 publications.

“The university has notified the journals of its findings and is working to ensure any necessary corrections are made,” it adds.

It also reiterates that no evidence was found of wrong-doing by any of Professor Melendez’s co-authors.

Professor Melendez resigned from his position of professor of immunopharmacology at Liverpool in November 2011 and his current whereabouts are unknown.

When contacted by Times Higher Education in 2011, he admitted that some data in his papers appeared to have been “duplicated/plagiarised or accommodated to fit a few papers”, but he denied any personal involvement. He said his “mistake” had been to be “too trusting” of Singapore-based authors who had written the papers after he moved to the UK.

However, in December 2012, Singapore announced it had “uncovered evidence of fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism associated with 21 papers, including the two in the original allegation”.

“Based on similarities in the pattern of misconduct and in some cases sole authorship of questionable papers, [the committee] concluded that [Professor] Melendez has committed serious scientific misconduct. The committee found no evidence indicating that other co-authors were involved in the scientific misconduct,” Singapore’s statement read.

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Reader's comments (1)

Prof Melendez appears to be back living in Punto Fijo, Venezuela.

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