Elizabeth Bik wins 2021 John Maddox prize for exposing threats to research integrity

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Elizabeth Bik wins 2021 John Maddox prize for exposing threats to research integrity

On December 1, Dutch microbiologist Elizabeth Bik was announced as the winner of the prestigious John Maddox prize for her “outstanding work exposing widespread threats to research integrity in scientific papers.”1

Dr. Bik, a science integrity consultant and founder of the blog Microbiome Digest, has raised concerns in close to 5,000 published papers. She has publicly flagged problems such as plagiarized text, data and image manipulation, and concerns around the methodology in scholarly papers. Owing to her efforts to maintain research integrity, several papers got corrected while others got retracted.

In her interview with Editage Insights, Dr. Bik had spoken about how her work in science integrity sparked from reading about plagiarism in research papers. She recalled how her 5-year analysis of a PhD thesis led her to notice that some of the chapters that were published included duplicated images in addition to plagiarized text. After reporting her observations, the papers in question got retracted. From that point on, Dr. Bik began to look for incidents of misconduct in research papers in a more systematic way.   

Her work has led her to face legal threats and online intimidation over the years. More recently, her critique of the use of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment garnered global attention. Addressing this, Dr. Bik said: “Unfortunately, as I have experienced in the past years, being critical about scientific papers can lead to online harassment, doxxing and threats of lawsuits and jail time.”2

One of the judges Natasha Loder from The Economist praised Dr. Bik’s work

The John Maddox prize is organized and funded by Sense About Science and the journal Nature. On winning the prize, Dr. Bik said: “Science builds upon science, and science publications that contain errors or even fraudulent data should be discussed, corrected, or even retracted.”3

Along with Dr. Bik, the John Maddox prize was awarded to Dr. Mohammed Sharif Razai, academic clinical fellow in primary care and general practitioner who is affiliated with St George’s, University of London for "his work tackling racial health inequalities; from vaccine hesitancy among ethnic minority groups, to revealing systemic racism as a fundamental cause and driver of adverse health outcomes."4


1,2,3,4 Sense About Science, John Maddox Prize 2021 Winners Announcement, https://senseaboutscience.org/activities/john-maddox-prize-2021-winners-...

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Published on: Dec 03, 2021

Sneha’s interest in the communication of research led her to her current role of developing and designing content for researchers and authors.
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