This row has been going on for twelve years.
The saga began when the paper described a method for using RNA sequences to grow tiny hexagonal crystals of palladium metal. The work hinted that RNA might have a role in producing inorganic materials in the environment. It has been cited more than 135 times.
But Stefan Franzen, another chemist at NCSU, soon raised questions about the work. In a series of publications, he challenged whether the team had really seen RNA-driven action or stable palladium crystals. Franzen filed a formal complaint to NCSU, which kicked off a series of investigations.
In the 2013 report, the NSF inspector-general found that the researchers had omitted experimental details and overstated the results, and recommended a finding of research misconduct. In 2015, the agency declined to make such a finding, but did issue a letter of reprimand and ban the authors from funding. More.
One wonders, if the paper hadn’t been cited so often, might it have just fallen into oblivion? Raised now and then, about a hypothesis re RNA, but never replicated?
See also: GM crops data, cited by Italian lawmakers, manipulated? Investigator: Image sections obliterated, and apparently identical images linked with different experiments
Replication as key science reform
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