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RTD info logoMagazine on European Research N° 48 - February 2006   
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 TABLE OF CONTENTS
 EDITORIAL
 A scientific conclave and public meeting
 Concerted voices on strings
 Two months flat on their backs
 The wild card of distributed production
 Action stations for in vitro
 Wolfgang Heckl’s straight talking
 The added value of mobility
 Analysis of a stalled constitution
 COMMUNICATING SCIENCE
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Publish and perish

Regarded as a world pioneer in animal and human cloning and, until just a few weeks ago, a likely candidate for a Nobel Prize, Dr Hwang Woo-Suk of South Korea has resigned from his post at Seoul National University, one week after requesting the withdrawal of an article published in Science. Having been lauded by a section of the scientific community, and especially in the media, a number of his results have been shown to be false. The fact that these were published in part in the prestigious magazine Science no doubt has something to do with the professor’s downfall. 

Scientific faking and falsification are not exceptional. In science, as in any other community, there are always the black sheep. But beyond the individual case, the scandal reveals failings in the present system of scientific publication. It seems that an article can be scientifically correct and yet potentially biased. The generous funding granted to this South Korean researcher did not provide a comprehensive guarantee either. It is a system from which the scientists themselves are the first to suffer. What is more, there is the fear that the growing pressures on researchers – the quest for funding, desire for publicity and the quasi-industrial publication of results – will encourage still more aberrations. It is no doubt not by chance that this trickery occurred in a country in the midst of an economic boom. 

The scandal is damaging to the whole field of science. It spreads the erroneous image of a science that moves blindly forward ignorant of the consequences of its action. Also, as is often the case when wrongdoings make the headlines, voices are being raised demanding increased control over research and researchers. Trust in science and scientists will in future come at a price.

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