British geneticist David Latchman, who is embroiled in a research misconduct probe, tells Nature News that he did not produce or oversee the production of the images at the center of the investigation. He notes, though, that he did not examine the papers closely enough to detect the errors.
"In my view, the investigation should focus on those actually involved in preparing the questionable figures and those directly involved in supervising their production," Latchman, the chief academic and administrative officer at Birkbeck, University of London, tells Nature News.
Allegations arose in 2013 surrounding papers co-authored by Latchman. Latchman's group has since retracted two papers and corrected a handful of other ones, mostly for images that had, for example, been flipped, duplicated, or mislabeled. An investigation by UCL found evidence of research misconduct in eight of the 28 papers it reviewed, and of these, two have been retracted and five corrected; a retraction has been requested for the final one, Nature News says.
The inquiry found in 2015 that Latchman "no case to answer." The manipulation of images in those papers has been attributed to corresponding author Anastasis Stephanou, now at the European University in Cyprus, who has said that the other authors were unaware of his tweaks.
However, additional anonymous allegations then arose, as has a second inquiry. Latchman hopes the investigation moves along quickly. "It is now over three years since UCL was first contacted about these allegations," he tells Nature News.