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Atlantic Avenue, Borough Hall trees are lit. Email to a friend Your name. Brooklyn Paper Radio Your browser does not support the audio element. The photoshopper Voinnet was portrayed as a distrait genius suffering of a form of self-harm syndrome, who needlessly attacked his own perfectly valid and reliable research data. With the new ETH announcement comes a surprising twist of this real-life academic sitcom, where research integrity became a sidekick to laugh at: Voinnet is innocent of any data manipulations.
Someone else did it, behind his back. To me, ETH announced that the Voinnet case is closed forever, no new evidence of data manipulations is admissible, and no new investigation will ever take place, no matter what else might be found. The new press release avoids this description, at least some progress. The inquiry uncovered manipulation of certain figures. Nevertheless, since he held overall responsibility as group leader, the university has reiterated the formal warning given to the professor and extended it for another five years.
The investigation discovered not only negligence and errors connected with figures in the five publications reviewed, but also evidence of intentional manipulation.
In contrast to this new whitewashing enterprise, the Voinnet investigation by ETH was more transparent: That peer was the Voinnet debunker microbiologist Benjamin tenOever , and he had absolutely zero, nothing, rien, gar nichts to do with the avalanche of PubPeer posts of Unlike in , the ETH report appropriated the responsibility for data manipulation to Voinnet himself, who also admitted being the Photoshop artist.
The ETH report from explains what happened:. Caught-up in the race to explore radically new scientific terrain OV and some of his collaborators permitted and used image manipulation, sometimes small and seemingly benign, but sometimes very serious. So now, 3 years later, we suddenly learn that Voinnet in fact never manipulated anything.
Someone else did it. The current Swiss press release explains that where previously only was unintentional misconduct fake images inadvertently slipping into published papers , they now found outright fraud.
Not personally involved in manipulation, but responsible as group leader Professor Olivier Voinnet was co-author of four out of the five publications examined. The new report confirms that neither Voinnet nor other members of ETH Zurich were personally involved in manipulating the figures. Voinnet did not perform, order or scientifically endorse such manipulation. The figures were manipulated, but not by Olivier Voinnet himself. Until earlier this year, that is. It was dissolved in utter secrecy in January , and Dunoyer departed to his far-away home island of New Caledonia.
In this regard, the announced blaming of any IBMP scientists is unlikely to hit an innocent here. The Executive Board has nevertheless also decided to extend the sanctions it originally imposed in In concrete terms, this means that the formal warning given to Voinnet is reiterated and will continue for another five years up to He must also continue to restrict his research to his own group in Zurich, and his publication activity will be monitored up to the end of This is actually very insightful.
Because Voinnet was still under a formal warning from , if he were to be found guilty of any research misconduct ever again, ETH would have no choice but to sack him. Especially now that actual fraud was suddenly found. Sacking Voinnet is obviously an unthinkable solution, to be avoided at all times and at all costs. Even if to prevent Voinnet from finally opening his mouth and telling on every single one of his peers worldwide who also engaged in research fraud and other dishonest academic activities.
The notification of suspected research misconduct was rejected, but not by Ombudsmen who never replied , but by the ETH Press office. It is not the first time ETH tells own Ombudspeople who can be investigated and who is above the law. In an earlier mobbing case around ETH astronomy professor Marcella Carollo , the university pushed the ombudsman aside and only acted when the bullied students finally managed to get their story into the press.
The astronomy institute was dissolved, but Carollo only sent on sabbatical. In , they selected 32 flagged Voinnet papers for scrutiny, found only 20 worth criticising and only specifically addressed some of the evidence for each of them. No forensic analysis to find more was invited, and Voinnet only admitted to what was already known. This second investigation only happened exactly because the first one did not cover all problematic Voinnet papers, while additional data rigging in those already investigated ones was discovered after the report was published.
The main message from the ETH email is: There will never be another Voinnet investigation, ever. Which in return means, Voinnet is in principal free to fake data again, as long as it helps ETH to papers and funding. Nothing will be admitted anymore, because Voinnet is innocent in the past. Including this new evidence I received from a reader, on a rather recent Voinnet-coauthored paper Uddin et al Nucleic Acids Research ETH is sure not interested.
Other institutions joined the ranks and drew a line. If you have concerns about specific papers, please first contact the corresponding authors, then the journals, then the institutions involved in that order. Now comes another gem from the ETH press release. It looks like this time Voinnet was actually investigating himself. This subheading of the new ETH press release reveals goes like that:.
The question of the motive for the manipulation is still unanswered after the CNRS inquiry — just as it was after the ETH investigation in — as there appears to have been no clear scientific advantage in manipulating the figures. Of course nobody ever released any of that original data which Voinnet used to prove his innocence. And as to what Voinnet submitted as corrections: In recent years, for example, the ETH professor has worked conscientiously and to the best of his ability to submit corrigenda for the erroneous research data or to retract the relevant publications where necessary.
It was also Voinnet himself who got the latest investigation into events at CNRS in Strasbourg under way by contributing his own in-depth research, and who insisted on full clarification of the facts. The investigation has identified another problem: Voinnet will now rectify these immediately.
Which I personally can understand:
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