News & AnalysisBiomedicine

Review of Cloning Paper Prompts Questions

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Science  31 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6136, pp. 1026-1027
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6136.1026

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Nearly 8 years after a massive fraud perpetrated by South Korean stem cell researchers, the embryo cloning breakthrough they claimed was back in the news this month. A different group published a paper reporting that they had cloned human embryos and derived stem cells from them. But incredibly, the new paper has come under scrutiny itself for duplicated images. So far there's no indication that the recent work is fraudulent, but the errors are another black mark on how high-profile papers are vetted, or not, before being published. They raise troubling questions that have dogged scientific publishing for years. For instance, how much responsibility do journals and reviewers bear for detecting problematic images in papers, whether honest errors or not? How is it possible that the very same result that unraveled so spectacularly in 2005 was not exhaustively reviewed when it was submitted for publication a second time?