JACC wins the first “This Image Is Fine” Award

In a new segment on this site, I will start handing out “This Image Is Fine” awards for papers containing images of concern, but where the Editors do not think there is a problem. This first installment of the “This Image Is Fine” award will go to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) for deciding that images containing large amounts of duplicated elements are not worth investigating.

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ISAC shares concerns about the Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin paper

The International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (ISAC) has shared concerns about the Gautret et al. paper published in its own journal. This paper, published under senior authorship of Didier Raoult from the IHU-Méditerranée Infection in Marseille, describes a small study that showed remarkable effects of Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin treatment in COVID-19 patients.

After world leaders and politicians started to tweet and endorse this study, many people pressured health officials to start treating COVID-19 patients with this regime, although the study was small and not yet confirmed by independent, larger, and better randomized other studies.

Several scientists and medical professionals, including myself, had concerns about how patients were assigned to each treatment group, how PCR results were reported, why patients with a poor outcome had been left out of the final results, and how this treatment could potentially result in serious side effects. I wrote about my concerns in this blogpost and on PubPeer.

Now, ISAC, who is overseeing the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, the journal that published this study, has joined in those concerns.

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An observational study without a control group

This blog post is based on a Twitter thread I did on March 27, 2020, after seeing Mathieu Rebeaud’s Tweet about a new white paper from the institute of Didier Raoult. That not-yet peer reviewed paper describes a group of 80 COVID-19 patients, all treated with a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin. This treatment had shown some promising results in a very small, not well-executed study by the same group. Unfortunately, this second study does not have a control group and the patients did not appear to be very sick. So here is my critical review.

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Post-publication reviews on COVID-19 papers

We are in the midst of a viral pandemic with huge effects on human health, social interactions, and the economy. Suddenly, lots of people have opinions or claim to have solutions to solve the COVID-19 situation. Not surprisingly, the Coronavirus epidemic has led to an enormous input of scientific papers, editorials, letters, reviews, trials, and what have you not. Most of these have been written hastily, without the rigor and thoughtfulness and editing that are normally essential to scientific publishing. Some of these papers are great, many of them not so much. Social media is exploding with all kinds of post-publication reviews of heavily discussed scientific papers. This post is an attempt to collect critical reviews of some of these COVID-19 related scientific papers.

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Thoughts on the Gautret et al. paper about Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin treatment of COVID-19 infections

There has been a lot of excitement – and even a presidential tweet about a recent paper from the lab of Didier Raoult, an infectious disease specialist in Marseille, France. But although this study might offer a glimmer of hope, there are some serious problems with the paper too.

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Dr. Ai Fen, 艾芬, the Wuhan Whistle

Dr. 艾芬 (Ai Fen) has played a key role in ringing the alarm in the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak. But blog posts about Dr. Ai Fen ‘s role in the COVID-19 outbreak have been mysteriously disappearing. This post is my contribution to make sure that the Internet Never Forgets.

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Some critical notes on a COVID-19 TCM paper

The recent COVID-19 outbreak has led to an enormous amount of preprints and rapidly-approved papers of variable quality. A recently published paper in Pharmacological Research called “Traditional Chinese Medicine for COVID-19 Treatment” caught my eye. The title suggested that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) could be used to treat patients that had fallen ill with the viral disease, but a quick read showed that the paper promised much more than it delivered. Here is a critical review.

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Western blots

Many image problems (duplications, manipulations) in scientific papers are found within Western blots. Several readers have asked me to explain what Western blots are, so here is a blog post written with the amazing help of Jon Cousins to provide some insights.

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The Tadpole Paper Mill

Tadpoles. Modified image by MarjanNo from Pixabay.

Most posts on this website are about duplications within or between figures in the same paper, or about duplications found between papers by the same group of authors. But now, our small group of image forensics detectives has come across a large set of papers – over 400 as of today – from different authors and affiliations that all appear to have been generated by the same source. Based on the resemblance of the Western blot bands to tadpoles (the larval stage of an amphibian, such as a frog or a toad), we will call this the Tadpole Paper Mill.

Update: for those who cannot access the Google Sheets link above, here is a PDF version embedded in WordPress which I hope will work for all (generated March 3, 2020):

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