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Retractions in the Cambridge Structural Database

Solution:

​You may have read with concern the recent Editorial Article by IUCr in Acta Crystallographica Section E: Structure Reports Online (2010), E66, e1-e2, which cited the publication of 70 structures based on falsified data. These originated from the groups of Dr Zhong and Professor Liu of Jinggangshan University, in 2007. The falsified data relating to these publications are, of course, included in the Cambridge Structure Database (CSD).

Structure data submitted for inclusion in the CSD have always gone through a rigorous process of curation. Our team of experienced editors checks depositions before they are passed into the database and we regularly contact depositors to clarify inconsistencies. This is a painstaking process in which we take great pride. We have always operated on a basis of trusting that the submitting scientist has acted honestly and, for the most part, our faith in the scientific community at large has not been dented by this unfortunate incident. Indeed, we congratulate the scientific team which uncovered the fraud and IUCr for their prompt, effective actions. We realise, however, that we must now be more vigilant for falsified data - a position we share with all publishing bodies that serve the crystallography community.

We are, first and foremost, scientists, so we cannot pretend this affair did not happen and simply airbrush the relevant entries in CSD out of existence. Such action would not serve our community well. We have therefore decided to flag each relevant entry as "Retracted", remove the data relating to it but to leave in place journal references and the DOI's of each retraction. CSD users will be contacted with procedures to update their installations accordingly.

Such instances of fraud are, thankfully, rare and we can now plan to take the steps necessary to detect others tempted to falsify data. This will ensure that the CSD remains the preeminent source of reliable, curated crystallography data, serving chemistry communities worldwide.

Colin Groom
Executive Director
Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre
Cambridge, UK, January 2010  



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