Published online 6 February 2008 | Nature 451, 618-619 (2008) | doi:10.1038/451618c

News in Brief

No conflict of interest in misconduct case, says lab

Officials at the US Department of Energy's Office of Science are resisting a finding by department attorneys that a report of an investigation into alleged scientific misconduct at a national laboratory qualifies for public release, according to a 15 January letter from the department.

The report reviews allegations against electron-microscopy researchers in the group of Stephen Pennycook at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee (see Nature 450, 590; 2007). One of the report's three authors, David Williams of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, says investigators spent hours reading papers received from Oak Ridge management, and found mistakes but no misconduct.

Williams also confirms that, prior to the investigation, he and co-editor Barry Carter of the University of Connecticut in Storrs had invited Pennycook to contribute a chapter to a future reference book on electron microscopy, with a possibility to share royalties. Williams did not declare the interaction. Oak Ridge claims that when it found out — well after the investigation had been completed — its lawyer said that there was no conflict of interest. 

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