Scientific image sleuth faces legal action for criticizing research papers
Researchers say the complaint filed against Elisabeth Bik could have a ‘chilling effect’ on scholarly criticism.
A prominent French microbiologist has filed a criminal complaint against a world-renowned research-integrity specialist after she publicly flagged concerns about his published work, including papers suggesting that the drug hydroxychloroquine was effective at treating COVID-19, a claim that has now been refuted.
The complaint was filed on 29 April to a prosecutor in Marseille, France, by a lawyer acting on behalf of Didier Raoult, along with his colleague structural biologist Eric Chabriere, both at the city’s Hospital-University Institute Mediterranean Infection (IHU). It accuses Elisabeth Bik — a microbiologist turned research integrity consultant, based in California — of aggravated moral harassment, attempted blackmail and attempted extortion.
Bik — whose work scrutinizing images in research papers has earned her a worldwide following and has led to more than 170 retractions — denies these allegations, and says that her comments about the pair’s work are standard scientific critiques.
“aggravated moral harassment”?
If he has not, in fact, photoshopped his gel photos, shouldn’t he be suing for defamation instead?
I’d be interested in @Giltil’s opinion on this.