“Just make up an elemental analysis…..”

ChemBark has the details of this case where sloppy writing and/or editing shows up some not so ethical behaviour:

Just make up the data..

Just make up the data ……

This instruction apparently from the senior author to the first author was found inadvertently left in the Supplemental Information for this paper – which has been archived here in case it disappears: SI Emma E Drinkel et al.

What is particularly noteworthy is the casual nature of the instruction to “just make up the data…”. It would almost appear that faking data is a routine and regular procedure. Less shocking but a telling commentary on the review process is that such a statement made it all the way to publication.

Emma E. Drinkel, Linglin Wu, Anthony Linden and Reto Dorta, Synthesis, Structure and Catalytic Studies of Palladium and Platinum Bissulfoxide Complexes, Organometallics, Article ASAP, DOI: 10.1021/om4000067

The affiliations of the authors is given as  the University of Zurich, but the senior author, Professor Reto Dorta now seems to be at the University of Western Australia while Emma Drinkel is in Brazil at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina.


A recently published ASAP article in the journal Organometallics is sure to raise some eyebrows in the chemical community. While the paper itself is a straightforward study of palladium and platinum bis-sulfoxide complexes, page 12 of the corresponding Supporting Information file contains what appears to be an editorial note that was inadvertently left in the published document:

Emma, please insert NMR data here! where are they? and for this compound, just make up an elemental analysis…

This statement goes beyond a simple embarrassing failure to properly edit the manuscript, as it appears the first author is being instructed to fabricate data. Elemental analyses would be very easy to fabricate, and long-time readers of this blog will recall how fake elemental analyses were pivotal to Bengu Sezen’s campaign of fraud in the work she published from 2002 to 2005 out of Dalibor Sames’ lab at Columbia.

The compound labeled 14 (an acac complex) in the main paper does not appear to correspond to compound 14 in the SI. In fact, the bridged-dichloride compound appears to be listed an as unlabeled intermediate in Scheme 5, which should raise more eyebrows. Did the authors unlist the compound in order to avoid having to provide robust characterization for it? ….


 Insert data here … Did researcher instruct co-author to make up results for chemistry paper?

When Authors Forget to Fake an Elemental Analysis

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2 Responses to ““Just make up an elemental analysis…..””

  1. Fallout from the Dorta – Drinkel paper | The k2p blog Says:

    […] publishing a paper based on her thesis, Professor Reto Dorta apparently “instructed” Emma Drinkel to “make up an elemental analysis” which – to her credit – she […]

  2. Update on the Dorta-Drinkel paper | The k2p blog Says:

    […] “close” the story on my previous posts (here and here), this post at the Chemistry blog brings a kind of “closure” though some more […]

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