We have a problem here. The paper I blogged about yesterday, on life extension effects with C60 fullerene (“buckyballs”) has a duplicated figure. This was first spotted by commenter “Flatland” yesterday. I was traveling all day, and when I came home in the evening I saw the comment and immediately realized that he was right. I’ve made the animation below (via Picasion) to illustrate the point:
These are from the part of the paper where they showed protective effects of C60 on animals that were being dosed with (toxic) carbon tetrachloride, and these are supposed to be the water/carbon tet control animal dosed by oral gavage (GAog) and by intraperitoneal injection (GAip). In other words, these are supposed to be separate animals, but as you can see, these are, in fact, the exact same histology slide. I’ve scaled the GAip image up about 120% and moved the two to correct the offset, but otherwise, I’ve done no image processing at all. The originals are screen shots from the PDF of the paper, the top two images of Figure 4.
This is, at the very least, very sloppy work, on both the part of the authors and the editorial staff at Biomaterials. I didn’t catch this one myself, true – but I wasn’t asked to review the paper, either, and I can assure you that I spend more time critically studying the figures in a paper under review than one I’m writing a quick blog entry about. Under normal reading conditions, most of us don’t look at histology slides in a paper while constantly asking ourselves “Is this right? Or is this just a duplicate of another image that’s supposed to be something else?”
And while this image duplication does not directly bear on the most surprising and interesting results of the paper – life extension in rodents – it does not inspire confidence in those results, either. I’m emailing the editorial staff at Biomaterials and the corresponding author of the paper with this blog entry. We’ll see what happens.