NY Times Report Hits the Web

March 15th, 2006

This post originally appeared on www.paulbracher.com/blog

Their story is here.

I find it hard to believe that it’s a coincidence that both C&EN and the NYT reported on this story on the same day within six hours of each other. The retractions were published on an ACS Web site two weeks ago, so C&EN had ample time to cover the story if it wanted to. What probably forced the issue was an inquisitive Times’ reporter asking questions around Columbia and in chemistry circles. My guess is that C&EN didn’t want to suffer the embarrassment of being beaten to the punch on a major story in our field.

Previous Comments

  1. eugene Says:
    March 15th, 2006 at 11:23 pm “The journal noted the retractions on its Web site on March 1, and they were reported this month on two chemistry blogs.”“Attempts to locate Dr. Sezen yesterday through e-mail messages and Internet search engines were unsuccessful.”Now we know how journalists work. Read a few blogs, do some googling, and then go and ask around saying “We’re the press”. In fact for this story, you technically didn’t have to leave the office. Or use the phone. Still, some congrats are in order to the journo covering this. This Kenneth guy might get a few more stories out of this.

    I challenge him not to use any sources other than the internet and email from now on for the development of this story. Do you accept Kenneth Chang?

    Okay, gotta go and take some stuff off of the vacuum line….

  2. Paul Says:
    March 15th, 2006 at 11:54 pm If I were a reporter, the Internet is definitely where I’d start my work on stories. Blogs are great, but I think it’s important that there is a real, bonafide reporter covering this story, because the people involved will not speak to random creeps on the Internet like me. And since Mr. Chang is located in NYC, I bet that he’ll meet these people face to face once they’re willing to speak. I look forward to learning more about what happened from the Old Gray Lady as opposed to from chem gossip channels.
  3. eugene Says:
    March 16th, 2006 at 12:45 am That’s all true. But it invalidates my challenge.Regardless of all that, I’m still a little upset that the editor of JACS would simply say: “We don’t have the resources, and we don’t have the means to investigate them.”Is that what the editor of Science said with regard to the stem cell issue? Is he going to ask us to investigate these papers since he doesn’t have any resources or working capacity to do this? Has he asked the PI as to whether they are doing further tests to confirm the authenticity of earlier reports in JACS that were not retracted? I’m sure there are a few people he can ask as a favor. Along the lines of: “Hey John, yeah it’s me, the editor of that journal in which you published two articles last year. I’m doing great, how’s research? Yeah, yeah, ha ha! Hey, listen. Can you get someone to check the experimental on this 2003 paper? It’ll probably work, but I just want to make sure. Great, I’ll get back to you in a few then; looking forward to that big article you promised.”

    We need to show some modicum of caring about all of this in front of the New York Times.

    Surely the editor of JACS doesn’t rely on his staff to do the refereeing for every single paper that is submitted. Why would different rules apply to an investigation of work that was submitted earlier? Also from his comments, it sounds as if he’s not familiar with the paper that was not retracted fully. I’d like a statement on that third paper.

    I’ve gotten over the whole scandal thing (unless it turns out to be really bad and even then I probably wouldn’t care); looks like Dali is keeping tenure and watching the Czechs defeat the States this summer. However now, it’ll be interesting to watch how JACS responds to all of this. So far, I’m not really happy with the response. It would have been 10 times better if he had said: “I don’t have all the facts right now, and I’ll let you know more in due time.” Let’s see if they can do better tomorrow.

    What do you think (Paul or the lurkers)?

  4. T. Farm Says:
    March 16th, 2006 at 10:25 am it is the unforunate truth that a Key reason why some people from abroad crave “science Ph.D.s” is that this is away to get a foothold on capitalism and loads of personal money that would otherwise, never come to their bank account.
    Bengu’s sudden vapor-action is likely due to a nice job they got, post May graduation. Now that the paychecks are coming, one would never want to jeopardise this by scandal on one’s scientific endeavors. Good trick to delete all on the Internet, hoping one’s corporate boss or P.I. don’t peek around too much on the WWW.
    While in the U.S., good to stay clean. That goes for U.S. people, and all those who are internationals who desire US citizenship here.
  5. Jim Says:
    March 16th, 2006 at 10:46 am Can not understand what Farm is talking about.
    What is wrong for people to go after money? Everyone except you maybe.
    What a nice job did she get?
    What is deleted on the internet?
    Do not guess too much without a piece of evidence, please!
    You wasted my time!
  6. Steve Says:
    March 16th, 2006 at 5:08 pm If you go to the original electronic copies of the papers in JACS, there is no indication that the papers have been retracted.
  7. Paul Says:
    March 16th, 2006 at 5:23 pm Yeah, I also saw that. JACS needs to post notification on any original paper that has been added to or corrected. Science does it–it can’t be that difficult. Furthermore, failure to do so is a disservice to the scientific community.Another thing JACS needs to do: establish the position of ombudsman. I’m sure there would be plenty of worthy volunteers.

One Response to “NY Times Report Hits the Web”

  1. ACS v. Leadscope: Why Chemists Should be Disturbed | ChemBark Says:

    […] and that C&EN did not issue its first story until two weeks after the retractions—only a few hours before the New York Times was set to publish a story. I was forced to conclude that the decision to […]


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