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Getting to grips with misconduct

Institutional response to research misconduct among Italian academics has traditionally been slow and ineffective. But efforts are underway to develop a country-wide strategy for the problem, says our correspondent Fabio Turone.

In mid-October, the University of Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, United States, wrote to 31 scientific journals regarding serious concerns over work undertaken by Piero Anversa, a star of Italian cardiac stem cell research. The two institutions found that Anversa, who worked in Boston and published in various high-level publications, had published papers containing falsified and fabricated data.

“Following a review of research conducted in the former lab of Piero Anversa, we determined that 31 publications included falsified and/or fabricated data, and we have notified all relevant journals,” the universities said in a statement. One retraction, in the New England Journal of Medicine on 17 October, was considered so important it was announced by the editor-in-chief Jeffrey Drazen. Anversa could not be reached for comment for this article.

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