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11Jan 2013

Whistleblower site Science Fraud goes dark.

Paul Brookes

The whistleblower website Science Fraud has shut down under the threat of numerous legal actions. 

The news was reported by Ivan Oransky at Retraction Watch last week, and a day later the author of the anonymous site identified himself--he's Paul Brookes of the University of Rochester. In a post that has since been removed--but is quoted by Oransky--Brookes wrote, "Over the course of 6 months, we documented over 500 problematic images in over 300 publications, amounting to tens of millions of dollars in misappropriated research funds." 

He added that he had learned some lessons from the experience. Naming the site "Science Fraud" was a bad move, he now says, adding that "something more benign...would probably be a better choice." He also regrets using vulgar language, which he recognizes "may have caused offense." But he said he remains "convinced that posting images from publicly available documents, questioning their integrity when there is sufficient evidence to suggest a problem, is in no way grounds for a libel or defamation suit.  In short – don’t shoot the messenger."

Oransky speculates about the reasons Brookes's site drew such ire--namely that the site accused scientists of wrongdoing and questioned the integrity of the scientists, not just their research. 

Brookes said that he hopes to establish a new, less inflammatory site, owned by a group of scientists all willing to be named.

-Paul Raeburn

Thanks to Jon Entine for the heads-up on this story.

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