RIKEN takes very seriously the various allegations and concerns that have been raised regarding the two STAP cell research articles published in the journal Nature by researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB), and has established a committee to investigate the concerns.
The committee has issued its report on the six items it has been investigating, and this has now been made public.
Regrettably, of the six items, the committee judged two to be instances of research misconduct. Those involved will be strictly dealt with as per the provisions of RIKEN’s internal regulations, and RIKEN will deliberate and implement measures to ensure that this does not happen again.
For details of the investigation, please refer to the investigative committee’s “Report on STAP Cell Research Paper Investigation.”
1. Actions taken by RIKEN to date
- (1) Release of investigative committee’s interim report , March 14, 2014
- (2) Release of investigative committee’s report, April 1, 2014
2. Next steps to be taken by RIKEN
The report concludes that there were two instances of research misconduct. Time will be allowed for an appeal to be made, as stipulated by RIKEN’s regulations, after which disciplinary measures will be taken, including calling for the retraction of the papers.
Those who were not found to have been involved in research misconduct still bear a heavy responsibility for their administrative negligence which allowed the research misconduct to occur. These individuals will also be subjected to disciplinary measures in accordance with RIKEN’s regulations.
3. Future preventive measures
RIKEN will take the following preventive measures, based on the results of the investigation.
- Measures will be immediately taken to restore public trust in RIKEN’s research activities and to ensure that misconduct does not occur again.
- A committee of outside experts (tentatively named the Reform Committee for the Prevention of Research Misconduct) will be established to review RIKEN’s overall organization from the perspective of the inherent problems that led to the current case of misconduct, and to deliberate and recommend measures for creating a research environment that will prevent future occurrences of research misconduct.
- To further reinforce RIKEN’s scientific governance to ensure prompt and committed action on the measures recommended by the reform committee, an internal reform office headed by the RIKEN president will be established.
Outline of measures to be promptly implemented
- (1) Rewrite RIKEN’s internal regulations and guidelines for the prevention of research misconduct and negligence
- (2) Institute a system in which young researchers can fully manifest their abilities and talents
- (3) Draft and implement guidelines for the approval process of papers to be published
- (4) Clarify the respective responsibilities for research conducted by several researchers and involving several institutions
- (5) Institute appropriate PR policies for issuing press releases
4. Verification of the STAP phenomenon
Verification of the STAP phenomena can only be done through scientific inquiry by third parties. To facilitate this process and to encourage active discussion within the scientific community, RIKEN has established its own internal group to verify the results of the STSP experiments. This group will be headed by Dr. Shinichi Aizwa, special advisor to RIKEN, and will share the results of its own rigorous experiments with researchers outside of RIKEN.