'Manipulation' nets virologist a 10-year journal ban

January 13, 2011

An internationally prominent Japanese virologist has received a 10-year ban from publishing in any American Society for Microbiology journal after being found guilty of manipulating data.

Naoki Mori, a professor at the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, has had five papers on which he is named as an author retracted by the journal Infection and Immunity.

The papers, written between 2000 and 2009, all relate to the viral causes of leukaemia.

Ferric Fang, editor-in-chief of the journal and professor of laboratory medicine and microbiology at the University of Washington, told Times Higher Education that the journal had been alerted after the University of the Ryukyus found Professor Mori guilty of "manipulating images".

After conducting its own review, the American Society of Microbiology decided to impose the 10-year ban on Professor Mori.

Professor Fang said sanctions could also be imposed on Professor Mori's co-authors, some of whom work for drug companies, if further investigations by their institutions indicated that any of them shared responsibility for the misconduct.

In August, Professor Mori retracted two 2010 papers from the journal Blood. He cited "multiple inaccurate and inappropriately duplicated" images, for which he said he took "full responsibility".

However, Professor Fang downplayed the impact of the manipulations on Professor Mori's research field and rejected the suggestion that publishers should impose a collective ban on researchers guilty of serial misconduct, citing doubts about the legality and proportionality of such a move.

"For a scientist, this could effectively represent a career-ending move," he said. "Where would one draw the line on the degree of misconduct deserving of such a severe penalty? It is my view that only the author's institution or perhaps a funding agency would have sufficient resources to conduct an appropriate investigation and conclude that such measures were (merited)."

Professor Mori did not respond to an invitation to comment.

paul.jump@tsleducation.com.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry