After receiving her PhD at Utrecht University in The Netherlands where she worked on epidemic Vibrio cholerae strains, Elisabeth Bik worked at the Dutch National Institute for Health and the St. Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein. She worked 15 years in the lab of David Relman in the School of Medicine at Stanford, on the microbiomes of humans and marine mammals. In May 2014, she founded Microbiome Digest, an almost daily compilation of scientific papers in the rapidly growing microbiome field.
In March 2019, she became a Microbiome and Science Integrity consultant.
She can often be found discussing science papers on Twitter at @MicrobiomDigest, writing for her blog ScienceIntegrityDigest or searching the biomedical literature for inappropriately duplicated or manipulated photographic images and plagiarized text.
How you can help
Due to the overwhelming amount of requests in the past, I will most likely not be able to respond to request to help. But I have written a couple of How To guides so you can help me by doing the work yourself.
If you suspect plagiarism, here is a guide to some tools to use.
If you see a paper with potentially duplicated images, poorly analyzed data, shoddy methods, conflict of interest, etc., please post it on PubPeer. I have written a page on how to post your concerns there.
I also encourage you to write your concerns to the Editor in Chief of the journal in which the paper was published. I have written a How To page on how to do that.
Thank you for understanding!
Speaking opportunities and consultancy work
Although almost all of the work I tweet and post about is without any compensation, I am also available as a research integrity consultant. I will honor any request for full confidentiality, that is, I will not tweet or write about the cases that I work(ed) on as a consultant.
I’d also be very happy to give a (virtual) seminar on my work as a research integrity volunteer, or on science misconduct in general. I ask for a speaker’s honorarium to cover my time.
Disclosures and conflicts of interest (2020)
I am on the Editorial Board of ISME Journal but do not receive financial compensation for that. Heck, I still have to pay to access their paywalled papers.
I have done paid consultancy work for the following companies:
- 2019: Elsevier, Astarte Medical.
- 2020: Elsevier, Astarte Medical, Portland Press.
- In 2019, I did a small consultancy job (2h) for Science Magazine, but they never paid my invoice.
I also have worked for a fee on a couple of misconduct cases for several universities in Europe and the US, but since these cases are still under investigation and easily traceable to individual scientists, I am currently not disclosing the names of the specific universities.
From 2019 on, I have received speaker fees for giving talks at several universities and institutions, such as Harvard, UC Berkeley, Washington University, Queen’s University, UTH Zurich, and the Crick Institute.
I am a scientific advisor for BioSense and own stock options of that company.
I do not own stocks or stock options from my previous employers uBiome or Astarte Medical. And, since a lot of folks ask me about this, I left uBiome in December 2018, and the company got raided by the FBI in April 2019. I was not involved in the suspected billing fraud, and I was never questioned by the FBI.
I am an author on several uBiome (now Psomagen) patents.
I have no financial or other ties to pharmaceutical companies. No company is paying me to criticize scientific papers.
I do have a Patreon account, and would welcome any contribution. Thank you.
What People Say
Dr. Elisabeth Bik has a remarkable natural ability to identify both image duplication and image manipulation through visual screening.Prasad Ravindranath
Bik is a unicorn when it comes to her hobby. Few people have the patience to sift through thousands and thousands of articles looking for tiny discrepancies in figures. Fewer still will subject their retinas to such strain for free.Adam Marcus, Ivan Oransky, Retraction Watch, for The Scientist
Elisabeth Bik is the champion spotter of duplicated or altered imagesDebora Weber-Wulff
Selected press about my work
A full list can be found here.
- Red Flags Raised Over Chinese Research Published in Global Journals – Eva Xiao – Wall Street Journal (with subscription)
- Scientific Journal Pulls Over a Dozen Papers by Chinese Researchers – Eva Xiao – Wall Street Journal (with subscription)
- Bay Area sleuth can spot your fake science – Lisa Krieger – Mercury News
- Eight Fraudulent Cancer Research Studies Contained Same Copied Results. How Does This Happen? – Victoria Forster – Forbes
- Surgisphere: mass audit of papers linked to firm behind hydroxychloroquine Lancet study scandal – Melissa Davey – The Guardian
- Meet this super-spotter of duplicated images in science papers – Helen Shen – Nature
- I scanned thousands of research images by eye to expose academic fraud – New Scientist (paywalled)
- A single ‘paper mill’ appears to have churned out 400 papers, sleuths find – Dalmeet Singh Chawla – Science
- “Ik wil wetenschappelijke literatuur opschonen” – Aafke Kok – Bionieuws (in Dutch)
- This Science Vigilante Calls Out Bogus Results in Prestigious Journals – Gemma Milne – OneZero Medium
- Maddox Prize 2019 Commendations – Sense About Science
- Heroes of science and research integrity – Matt Hodgkinson – Hindawi
- Fighting to slow the rise of medical fraud – Gemma Milne – The Times (UK), Raconteur.net
- ‘Ik detecteer alleen maar de heel domme wetenschappers’; Elies Bik, microbioloog en waakhond – Sander Voormolen – NRC.nl (in Dutch)
- Can you spot the duplicates? Critics say these photos of lionfish point to fraud – Martin Enserink – Science
- Talking Biotech Podcast 204 – Plagiarism and Image Manipulation in Scientific Publication – Kevin Volta – Talking Biotech
- I have found about 2,000 problematic papers, says Dr. Elisabeth Bik –
- Jayashree Rajagopalan – Editage
- Manipulation within a photo should always result in a retraction: Elisabeth Bik – R. Prasad – The Hindu
- PodCast Episode 51: Seeing Double – Elisabeth Bik – Parsing Science
- Eye for Manipulation: A Profile of Elisabeth Bik – Adam Marcus, Ivan Oransky – The Scientist
- This Microbiologist Can Spot Your Fake Photos – Allen Murabayashi – PetaPixel
- A Scientist Keeps Claiming His Life Force Can Somehow Kill Cancer Cells, And Researchers Are Calling Him Out – Stephanie M Lee – BuzzFeed
- The Fraud Finder: A conversation with Elisabeth Bik – Sally Adee – The Last Word On Nothing
- More science than you think is retracted. Even more should be. – Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky – The Washington Post
- Seeing Double (with Elisabeth Bik) – Everything Hertz Podcast on Soundcloud, with Dan Quintana and James Heathers.
- Meet the people busting scientists who fake images in research papers – Vishwam Sankaran – The NextWeb
- ‘It is easy for me to spot most image duplications’ – Dr. Elisabeth Bik has a remarkable natural ability to identify both image duplication and image manipulation through visual screening. – Prasad Ravindranath – Journos Diary
- Study: 35,000 Papers May Have Retraction-Worthy Image Duplication – Catherine Offord – The Scientist
- 35,000 papers may need to be retracted for image doctoring, says new paper – Alison McCook – Retraction Watch
- Meet the scientific sleuths: A dozen who’ve had an impact on the scientific literature – Ivan Oransky – Retraction Watch
- Knip en plak voor het juiste onderzoeksresultaat – Photoshop maakt de wetenschap kapot – Maxie Eckert and Stijn Cools – De Standaard (in Dutch)
- Dans les labos, des petits arrangements avec la science – David Larousserie – Le Monde / Le Temps (in French)
- Years of Ethics Charges, but Star Cancer Researcher Gets a Pass – James Glanz and Agustin Armendariz – The New York Times
- When does animal research become unnecessary and cruel? A paper’s methods give a biologist pause – Alison McCook – Retraction Watch
- Image manipulation in biomedical papers is commonplace – Maria Burke – Chemistry World
- Seeing double: Duplicated images plague research papers – Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus – STAT News
- One in 25 papers contains inappropriately duplicated images, screen finds – Cat Ferguson – Retraction Watch
- Problematic images found in 4% of biomedical papers. Giant survey suggests journals should pay more attention to detecting inappropriate duplications – Monya Baker – Nature News
- Repeat Offenders: Scanning the literature, scientists find that nearly 2 percent of papers contain duplicated and manipulated figures – Kerry Grens – The Scientist
- In Dutch: Veel geknoei met foto’s. Wetenschapsfraude. Dezelfde foto met een ander bijschrift, is dat een slordigheidje of bewuste misleiding? Het blijkt regelmatig voor te komen – Sander Voormolen – NRC