The anonymous author of a popular Web site that claimed to identify manipulated images—and the scientists behind them—confirmed his identify this afternoon, a day after he removed previous posts and announced that he would suspend posting on the site following threats of legal action. The man behind www.science-fraud.org is Paul Brookes, a 40-year-old associate professor who studies cardiac mitochondrial function at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. In a statement posted on his blog that was subsequently taken down, Brookes said he was "aided by dozens of helpers, who both submitted material to the site and helped in analyzing suspected data, a triage system of sorts was developed, such that only the most egregious examples were posted." Since it went live 6 months ago, the site "documented over 500 problematic images in over 300 publications."
Brookes had considered some of the possible legal ramifications of accusing prominent scientists of fraud. The site pointed out that "cease-and-desist letters from individuals whose work I report on will be ignored, because I'm only highlighting what's already out there and allowing readers to draw their own conclusions." Genuine legal concerns, however, would be taken seriously, and "I will be happy to discuss editing or removal."