Science  04 May 2007:
Vol. 316, Issue 5825, pp. 675

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  1. Expert Panel Faults Expert Panels

    1. Andrew Lawler

    Scientists increasingly set the long-term research agenda for NASA through decadal studies conducted by the National Academies' National Research Council (NRC) in fields from earth sciences to astrophysics. But those studies have come under fire recently from NASA chief Michael Griffin, who argues that the NRC routinely—and dramatically—underestimates the cost of future missions and then complains when the cash-strapped agency must scale back or cancel projects.

    This week, an NRC study acknowledged that the surveys, although largely successful, are saddled with “notable problems” such as overly rosy cost estimates and an inability to take into account changing budgets and agency planning cycles. For example, the panel notes, skyrocketing costs for large missions from the Mars Viking to the Hubble Space Telescope ended up penalizing a host of smaller research missions. The study proposes adding cost experts to future panels and obtaining independent cost estimates of NASA missions. It also advises putting international or interagency projects under special scrutiny.

    Meanwhile, last week AAAS (which publishes Science) joined the growing chorus calling for NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to restore funding for planned earth science missions—a crisis outlined by the earth sciences decadal survey released earlier this year.

  2. Paper Cloned

    1. Constance Holden

    A Korean fertility expert, Sook-Hwan Lee, has been banned from publishing in the U.S. journal Fertility and Sterility for 3 years. The ban follows revelations about a 2005 paper that editors learned had previously been published in a Korean journal. Lee, director of the Human Genetics Laboratory at CHA General Hospital in Seoul, was listed as corresponding author on both papers.

    The paper, which involved examining mitochondrial DNA in patients with ovarian failure, was first published in 2004 in the Korean Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology by Jeong Hwan Kim, who had worked with Lee as a doctoral student. The English version appeared in the December 2005 issue of Fertility and Sterility. Although the paper has been retracted, the retraction “does not reflect on the scientific validity of the paper,” said the journal's publisher, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, which adds that none of Lee's co-authors knew about the duplication.