5 years ago today, I started my website, For Better Science, and I think there are two groups of people: those who really hate me and my work, and those who wish someone more respectable would do it. That was almost a joke: of course there are many fans, and I am very grateful for all your support, moral and financial.
My special big thanks go to Smut Clyde, my cherished and utterly unpaid contributor, as well as to my other pseudonymous collaborators Tiger BB8, Morty, Cheshire and my only named collaborator, the amazing Elisabeth Bik, plus others who probably rather don’t want to be named here (but you do know I mean you ;-). Huge thanks to you all!
And I am also very grateful to all the academic whistleblowers and patients or their families who use my site to share their concerns and evidence, named, anonymous and intentionally unmentioned. I am particularly proud of my investigation of the Paolo Macchiarini trachea transplant affair, which extended to his enterprising collaborators in Germany, UK and Sweden. Especially for that investigation, the contribution of Professor Patricia Murray and Elizabeth Woeckner cannot be exaggerated. Thank you so much, Trish and Liz!
Five years ago, on 28 October 2015, For Better Science came into existence with an article about the Swiss Open Access publisher Frontiers, which was followed by other posts, further endearing me to the OA community. It is among my top 10 most popular articles even now, and Frontiers’ reputation became somewhat dented, as scientists keep referencing my articles.
So, what else did I achieve together with my readers, contributors and whistleblowers?
- Together with Patricia Murray and Liz Woeckner, we achieved a termination of an EU-funded phase 2 clinical trial with trachea transplants, run by Macchiarini’s former colleague Martin Birchall. Two related phase 1 trials tanked also. Now Patricia Murray succeeded to tank yet another clinical trial, by the company Celixir owned by Nobelist Sir Martin Evans.
- France was rocked by several high profile research integrity scandals caused alone by my reporting. First, the star plant scientist Olivier Voinnet (stranded in Switzerland), then the CNRS chief biologist Catherine Jessus (resigned), then the CNRS interim president Anne Peyroche (dismissed), and even current governmental Minister for Research Frederique Vidal was caught with manipulated research data in her papers. These were just the biggest cases I reported which were picked up by the French media. This week the French Parliament will vote on enshrining a research integrity mandate into law.
- Spanish cancer researcher Carlos Lopez-Otin ended up with 9 retractions and a huge pile of murdered mice (they knew too much). Outside of Spain, nobody would want to touch Lopez-Otin with a barge pole now (except his friend Guido Kroemer), in Spain St Carlos of Oviedo is now a martyr saint with a strange Opus Dei association.
- In Sweden, former rector of the Karolinska Institutet and member of the Nobel Assembly, Karin Dahlman-Wright, was found guilty of research misconduct based on the evidence my readers supplied.
- Also in Sweden, predatory conference scam by the fake professor Ashutosh Tiwari had to severely downsize and move its operations outside the Linköping University, Tiwari’s patron Tony Turner was made to retire, dismissed as editor of the Elsevier journal he founded and slapped with misconduct findings.
- Smut Clyde and others cracked several paper mills which sell utterly fabricated “research” papers to paying customers in China. Many journals fell prey, and Chinese authorities announced a crackdown on the mill industry. Media reports on that scandal often, but rarely references the right contributors.
- Top plant science journal The Plant Cell had to find a new Editor-in-Chief, as the newly recruited one was no good.
- The highly restrictive Open Access mandate of Plan S became progressively diluted following protests by scientists on my site.
- Former star of cancer research Pier Paolo Pandolfi lost his new position in Italy, after Michael Balter and myself reported his dismissal for sexual misconduct
- Cancer researcher Jan van Deursen was so angry about my reporting on his job loss at Mayo Clinic over bullying charges that he decided not to go work in Texas and instead focus on suing me in Germany.
There were many more scandals and affairs my reporting kicked off, too many to mention here. Not all are resolved (see for example the Giorgio Zauli farce in Italy), and if they are, it is not yet public knowledge. In this regard, also the recent coverage of the hydroxychloroquine circus during the COVID-19 pandemic is work in progress.
Till today, I published slightly under 500 posts. I was accused of many things, including racism (towards French, Italians, Greek and Portuguese), misogyny and harassment (my reporting about BethAnn McLaughlin‘s fake western blots made me rather unpopular). Of course I was also accused of grinding the axe and personal grudges.
Here are the 10 most successful articles from the last five years:
- Vitamin D for COVID-19
- Didier Raoult, the chloroquine genius
- Ashutosh Tiwari’s scams
- Didier Raoult is mad
- The Full Service Paper Mill (thanks to Smut Clyde and the team!)
- Gregg Semenza’s ignoble western blots
- Is Frontiers a predatory publisher?
- Research misconduct and bullying in Manchester
- Macchiarini’s secrets in Barcelona
- Full list of Macchiarini’s victims
But among the least read articles, there are some German classics which I think are unduly neglected:
- Bremen rector is not a plagiarist
- How to legally do illegal human experiments
- DFG Senator shows how to science
- Brain Drain from Moscow to Düsseldorf
- Saving Doctor Joussen
- Why Macchiarini is still professor
- The Pride of Ruhrgebiet
- The proper channels
- Dr Plentz cures cancer
- Hannover heart business
Some of my articles got me sued and sentenced in court, you can read details here and here. One of the lawsuits is still ongoing. But even where I did not win in court, I won the bigger game: my articles are still there, with all the evidence, if you google their names, you will know what they did to people. Your financial support is very important to me, please keep it up if you can. In any case, please spread the word of For Better Science!
If you are interested to support my work, you can leave here a small tip of $5. Or several of small tips, just increase the amount as you like (2x=€10; 5x=€25). Your generous patronage of my journalism will be most appreciated!
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Thank you all! To the next 5 years and beyond!