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Image Errors Investigated

The Chinese Academy of Engineering is looking into whether papers overseen by Cao Xuetao, the president of Nankai University, contain manipulated images, the South China Morning Post reports.

Derek Lowe notes at In the Pipeline that Cao has been "built up as a paragon of Chinese research and of service to the Chinese state" and that he is the former head of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and the current head of a Research Integrity initiative.

But concerns arose last week on PubPeer when microbiologist Elisabeth Bik noted that some images appear suspect, and about 50 papers have been identified that may contain manipulated images, SCMP adds. In a tweet, Bik said that she wasn't "accusing anyone of misconduct" and that the duplications could be due to "honest errors."

SCMP reports that investigations into the situation are underway. Cao has additionally said he is looking into the matter and would contact journals if any errors are found, it notes. "Based on our analyses up to this point (still ongoing) and additional feedback we received from colleagues and peers, I would like to add that I remain confident about the validity and strength of the scientific conclusions made in those publications," Cao wrote in a response on PubPeer. He further apologized, adding "I most sincerely apologize for any oversight on my part."