Be the first to like.

Share

If John Carlisle had a cat flap, scientific fraudsters might rest easier at night. Carlisle routinely rises at 4.30 a.m. to let out Wizard, the family pet. Then, unable to sleep, he reaches for his laptop and starts typing up data from published papers on clinical trials. Before his wife’s alarm clock sounds 90 minutes later, he has usually managed to fill a spreadsheet with the ages, weights and heights of hundreds of people — some of whom, he suspects, never actually existed.

By day, Carlisle is an anaesthetist working for England’s National Health Service in the seaside town of Torquay. But in his spare time, he roots around the scientific record for suspect data in clinical research. Over the past decade, his sleuthing has included trials used to investigate a wide range of health issues, from the benefits of specific diets to guidelines for hospital treatment. It has led to hundreds of papers being retracted and corrected, because of both misconduct and mistakes. And it has helped to end the careers of some large-scale fakers: of the six scientists worldwide with the most retractions, three were brought down using variants of Carlisle’s data analyses.

“His technique has been shown to be incredibly useful,” says Paul Myles, director of anaesthesia and perioperative medicine at the Alfred hospital in Melbourne, Australia, who has worked with Carlisle to examine research papers containing dodgy statistics. “He’s used it to demonstrate some major examples of fraud.”

…continue reading ‘How a Data Detective Exposed Suspicious Medical Trials’

Thumb image via Nature: Credit – Emli Bendixen for Nature

Be the first to like.

Share
Nature

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply