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The Media

Phantom Authors Publish Real Research Paper 52

ananyo writes "Ghost writing is taking on an altogether different meaning in a mysterious case of alleged scientific fraud. The authors of a paper published in July, which reported significant findings in obesity research, seem to be phantoms. They are not only unknown at the institution listed on the paper, but no trace of them as researchers can be found. The paper, published in the Elsevier journal Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, is not the kind of prank that journals have encountered before, in which hoaxsters have submitted dummy papers to highlight weaknesses in the peer-review process. The paper's reported findings — that overexpression of two novel proteins in fat cells leads to improvements in metabolic processes related to diabetes and obesity in mice — are, in fact, true. Too true, in the opinion of Bruce Spiegelman, a cell biologist at Harvard Medical School's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He says that he has presented similar findings at about six research meetings, and is preparing to submit them to a journal. He suspects that the BBRC paper was intended as a spoiler of his own lab's work."

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