Obokata's case reveals faults of lenient Japanese academia
The Japan News -- Jul 24
Amid a series of research misconduct cases involving universities and research institutions in the nation, such as the recent controversy over articles on stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells, there is increasing criticism over insufficient investigations into suspected research misconduct.

For example, an investigative panel at Waseda University probed the work of Haruko Obokata, a unit leader at government-backed research institute RIKEN, who is at the center of the scandal over STAP cells. It said there was no need for the university to retract her doctorate although the panel admitted the doctoral thesis contained misconduct and irregularities.

Meanwhile, RIKEN's internal investigative committee that was in charge of reviewing the STAP articles had overly narrowed down the range of issues to be covered, raising one new doubt after another since its investigation was closed.

These cases shed light on the lenient attitude of research institutions and universities toward their colleagues and fellow researchers.

"I can never go along with such a result. Japan's academics will lose trust if this goes on," a Waseda professor in a department related to science and technology said with anger after the university's investigative panel announced its final report on the probe of Obokata's doctoral thesis Thursday.

The panel identified intentional misconduct in six parts of Obokata's thesis, including the fact that text on 20 pages-about one-fifth of the entire thesis-were copied from the website of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, while also pointing out a total of 20 irregularities such as fraudulent use of images.

News source: The Japan News
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