If you google “Ranjit Chandra” (a famous Canadian nutrition researcher), the second result is this page, created by me, which lists many articles about a scandal that Saul Sternberg and I did a lot to to uncover. We pointed out that several details of one of Chandra’s papers were impossible. I did not create the page to harm Chandra, but it does: For the rest of his life, anyone curious about him will find out about the scandal. It is a scarlet letter with capital S and capital L.
I suspect this is why Leiden University recently fired a scientist without naming him/her.
Leiden University Medical Centre (LUMC) has fired an employee who has committed fraud in the collection of research data. An internal inquiry showed that the employee deliberately manipulated laboratory research. The employee has confessed and accepted the dismissal. Additionally, the LUMC withdraws two scientific publications by this employee. The fraud was discovered by immediate colleagues at the Rheumatology Department.
A deal was struck. The employee won’t contest the firing, the medical center won’t name the employee in the press release. The employee didn’t want the scandal to follow him/her for the rest of their life.
I disagree with this deal. As a result of the employee’s fabrication, a clinical trial was started in which sick people ingested or had injected a powerful drug. The university claims no one was hurt (“It is clear that at no time a dangerous situation has arisen for patients”). I have no idea if anyone was hurt, but the potential for damage was great. Last night a friend told me about a Traditional Chinese Medicine drug that a friend of hers took. It worked for years and then one day stopped working. It came from China. It turned out the Chinese manufacturer had run out of the crucial ingredient and had substituted an animal tranquilizer. Her friend was really damaged by this. Chandra’s data might have caused people to take too many vitamins.
The medical center employees who handled this case (presumably very high up in medical center administration) treated the rest of us — who deserve to be warned about the fabricator — not so differently than the fabricator did: as people who don’t matter. Who don’t deserve protection.
More A comment at Retraction Watch says the anonymity is Dutch tradition: “The names of the people are not published so that these people have a chance of rebuilding their lives in the future. In the Netherlands even people who have committed serious crimes do not have their full name or photo published in the press.”