American scientists deliberately infected prisoners and patients in a mental hospital in Guatemala with syphilis 60 years ago, a recently unearthed experiment that prompted U.S. officials to apologize Friday and declare outrage over “such reprehensible research.”
The U.S. government-funded experiment, which ran from 1946 to 1948, was discovered by a Wellesley College medical historian. It apparently was conducted to test if penicillin, then relatively new, could prevent infection with sexually transmitted diseases. The study came up with no useful information and was hidden for decades.
In December, a British journal retracted 70 papers from a Chinese university, all by the same two lead scientists, saying the work had been fabricated. “Academic fraud, misconduct and ethical violations are very common in China,” said professor Rao Yi, dean of the life sciences school at Peking University in the capital. “It is a big problem.”
Critics blame weak penalties and a system that bases faculty promotions and bonuses on number, rather than quality, of papers published.
Early last year, Internet users found that the deputy principal of Anhui Agricultural University had committed plagiarism in as many as 20 papers. The university removed him from his post but allowed him to continue teaching.
In June, the principal of a traditional Chinese medicine university in the city of Guangzhou was accused of plagiarizing at least 40 percent of his doctoral thesis from another paper.
And in March, the state-run China Youth Daily reported a 1997 medical paper had been plagiarized repeatedly over the past decade. At least 25 people from 16 organizations copied from the work, and more doctors are expected to be named as the investigation by two students using plagiarism-detecting software continues, the report said.
Fang Shimin, an independent investigator of fraud, said he and his volunteers expose about a hundred cases every year, publicizing them on a Web site titled “New Threads.”