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Dear Dr. Burton
送交者: 香椿树 2011年08月09日05:06:01 于 [教育学术] 发送悄悄话

Dear Dr. Burton,

I received your letter sent to the list and has not been feeling comfortable about it since.

First, I am surprised how one professor, you, would “fail to see” the “merit” of another professor (Professor Root-Bernstein)’s accusation of a plagiarism that was already admitted by the plagiarizer (your former student)’s “apology”.

Second, I am bothered with labelling critics of misconduct with political opponents How could you reach this conclusion and what evidence can you present?

Third, I do not understand how could you judge your former student’s response as “reasonable” when that response has been adequately rebutted by Professor Root-Bernstein.

Fourth, I wish you can clarify this point: are you in support of Fang’s prominent position or his defiance against some solid criticisms over his massive plagiarism?

Fifth, Why did you bring up his “good quality thesis” and “a high quality research paper” inJBC in this letter defending his alleged plagiarism?  Would the “good” “quality” of his research establish an immunity against condemning his bad behaviors?

Since you raised the issues of his good research and high quality paper I would pick up an unresolved issue that I have communicated with you a year ago.

On July 20, 2010, I wrote you (see attached email copy) because, as the Editor-in-Chief of Scientific Ethics, I have received complains against Fang’s potential data manipulation and even falsification in his JBC paper which was co-authored with you.  You replied to me saying that “In 1996, it was not unusual to select specific gel tracks for presentation, and this practice was not prohibited by journals”.  I appreciated your quick response because your student, Mr. Fang, has never replied me.  Later, I learnt that Fang admitted the manipulation of the gel images but, when asked whether the merged data represent real situations, his response was he forgot how the images were made up.

However, as far as I know, Mr. Fang has published one original research paper that is attributable to his own main research effort.  This paper is just image-manipulated JBC paper which was taken out from one chapter of his PhD dissertation.  I read his dissertation to see if his JBC paper would be supported by more experimental data but I found the “synthesis” of the gel image was already done in the dissertation and there were no more original data can be traced back to support that manipulation.  This is truly unusual as most dissertations would contain many repeatable experiments to support a key conclusion in a major research.  But the lack of such overwhelming evidence even in the dissertation worried me if the research was indeed “good” quality.

In your response to me you stated that you “no longer have access to Shi-Min’s primary data” and thus cannot judge whether or not his data manipulation is justified.  However, Fang’s close friend, Dr. Rao in Peking University, published a widely circulated blog article within days of the accusation claiming that he received a letter from JBC which concluded that no misconduct was found in the alleged data manipulation.  How could JBC reach this conclusion when you do not have primary data and Mr. Fang simply forgot how the image was composed As a corresponding author of the JBC paper, have you ever received such a letter from JBC?  Please answer me Yes or No.

I respect your desire of showing “no interest in the efforts of Dr. Fang’s political opponents to try to discredit him”.  However, I do have an interest, as it is a common interest expressed to me from many readers of Scientific Ethics, to find out why would you stand out so urgently in defending your former student’s admitted plagiarism and discredit your colleague’s solid accusation.  Do you and your student have some common interests or even political aims because you already brought politics into this academic debate?

I am looking towards your earliest response.

 

Sincerely,

 

Shi V. Liu MD PhD

Editor-in-Chief, Scientific Ethics

 

 

P.S.

Previous communications with regarding to Mr. Fang’s data manipulation in JBC paper.

 

 

Concerns of Data Manipulation in Fang's 1996 JBC paper

3 messages

 

 

 

Shi Liu Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 11:00 AM

To: burton@msu.edu

Bcc: "Shi V. Liu SE"

Dear Dr. Burton,

Recently I received an email which suspected that a key figure in an 1996 JBC paper co-authored by Fang and you might contain some manipulated data.

 

The Figure 4 B and C were analyzed by Photoshop and found to be composite images likely originated from different experiments.  The critics also pointed out the lacking of molecular weight markers and appropriate controls.  Since scientific journals generally require reproducible results from comparable or, best, the same experiments and because the data shown in Fig. 4 are very critical for the reported claim it is essential to have the results obtained from the same repeatable experiments, rather than from partial images of different sets of experiments.

 

I have forwarded the above concerns to Dr. Fang and asked him to give me a candid and objective account or rebuttal.  However, so far I have not received any response from him.

 

Thus, I am writing to you (as the corresponding author and also the mentor of Dr. Fang) to ask you to inform Dr. Fang the ethical requirement for him to reply any scientific concern and criticism.

 

I know the questions on Dr. Fang’s paper came out very later and it may be hard for you to collect evidence to prove anything.  But if you do have the records of the original images used for the 1996 JBC paper than it may be easy to clear this thing out.

 

In any case, the first author who were most likely solely knowledgeable for the original data should offer a reliable account for the concerns raised by the readers.

 

I am looking forward to hearing your earliest response.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

 

Shi V. Liu MD PhD

Editor-in-Chief, Scientific Ethics

Apex, NC, USA

 

SVL8EPA@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

Burton, Zachary Tue, Jul 20, 2010 at 12:04 PM

To: Shi Liu

Dear Dr. Liu,                To my knowledge, there are no issues that are reasonable to raise about the data presentation in Shi-Min’s paper. In 2010, there is no reason to doubt functional interactions between TFIIF and TFIIB, as characterized in that paper. In 1996, it was not unusual to select specific gel tracks for presentation, and this practice was not prohibited by journals. I no longer have access to Shi-Min’s primary data, so I cannot supply this material to you.

                Thank you for your interest in our work.

 

Best regards,

Zachary Burton

Professor

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Michigan State University

E. Lansing, MI 48824-1319

burton@cns.msu.edu 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shi Liu Wed, Jul 21, 2010 at 4:15 AM

To: "Burton, Zachary"

Bcc: "Shi V. Liu SE"

Dear Dr. Burton,

Thank you for your rapid response.

 

My concern over the 1996 JBC paper so far remains in the candid account for the composition of the Figure, whether it is a composite or not.   The critics originally raising that question also wondered why would Dr. Fang use a composite image (as shown by his or her image analysis) if there was a whole gel image containing all the studied parts.  Because the JBC paper seemed a crystallization of Fang’s PhD work of 5 years or so the critics thought Fang should have plenty time to get such an whole gel image.

 

As Fang’s mentor, do you remember that Fang had shown you such essential evidence for the critical conclusion later reported in the 1996 JBC paper?

 

I am not sure whether making up a composite gel image would be a usual practice even at that time for demonstrating some points that should be demonstrated in some more direct and truthful ways. However, I know a responsible scientist should respond to any scientific criticism or concern, just like you have done in rapidly responding me.  But Fang has so far not even answered my inquiry.  Therefore, I wish that you can remind him of not making this matter worse by committing a “missing correspondency”-type misconduct.

 

By the way, the critics also showed me a statement (expressed in Chinese) from Fang which has the following meaning:

 

 has always wished to live a free life. I once thought that a professor especially a tenured professor in a US university has a free life.  But I found out that is not so because even a tenured professor has to write grant application all days in order to get money for research.  So I finally decided to become a writer.

 

As his PhD mentor, do you think that Dr. Fang really had a potential to become a professor if he continued in scientific research?  I heard that he has done two postdoc terms but ended up without finding an academic position or research job.

 

I am looking forward to hearing your further response and comment.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

 

Shi V. Liu MD PhD

Editor-in-Chief, Scientific Ethics

Apex, NC, USA

SVL8EPA@gmail.com

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  烫山芋  /无内容 - jjmmjj 08/09/11 (149)
    Fang said he did it, but - mnsheep 08/09/11 (143)
      小方阿民也怪不容易的! - mnsheep 08/09/11 (146)
        Dr. Burton is shameless - 香椿树 08/10/11 (81)
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