Robert Slutsky

Slutsky was a resident in cardiological radiology at the University of California, San Diego, who between 1978 and 1985 was the author or co-author of 137 articles. The possibility of fraud was raised by an astute referee who queried apparently identical statistical results for two separate sets of data in consecutive articles that he had to read when Slutsky applied for promotion.19 An inquiry found experiments and measurements that had never been done, incorrect procedures, and reports of statistical analyses that had never been performed. A committee of investigation was set up and, after interviewing co-workers, looking at lab notebooks, and reading the articles, it classified these as valid (77 articles), questionable (49), or fraudulent (12). Some of these last were retracted, and a few statements of validity were also published.

This is yet another important case, illustrating several other features about research misconduct:

• There was Slutsky's high productivity: at one stage he was producing one paper every 10 days (and on diverse subjects), which occasioned little but admiration from his colleagues.

• Again, many of the latter were happy to accept gift authorship.

• There was the way in which this junior research worker had managed to escape any supervision of his research by his seniors. There was the inordinate amount of work involved for the committee of inquiry, which had to read the articles, look at the lab books, and consult the co-authors.

• Finally, there was the curious behaviour of several journals, which either declined to insert any retraction or statement of validation (sometimes but not always on legal grounds) or, if they did so, tended to do this in such terms as to make the retractions non-retrievable on electronic databases.19

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