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One particular paper (Initial) cited a website with a basic pie chart of some data (Chart), while interesting, did not contain any of the original data, only a reference, so I dug into the original paper to get more details (Paper).

Then I found out that the original Paper had no such data at all. I'm not even sure how the numbers came about. It seems like the Chart author was interpreting the Paper's research, and basically created a new chart while citing the Paper as the "source", but that actual chart nor data exists on Paper at all.

The Chart is useful, but it seems to be, at minimum, interpreted, if not outright fabricated. I've decided that particular chart, although had useful information, is not true and I should not use it in my paper.

However, what exactly do I do with the knowledge that the chart seems to be fabricated? And what about the Initial paper that cites this chart?

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  • So you have Paper 1 that cites a website that cites Paper 2, and you are concerned about the transition from Paper 2 to the website? Apr 11 at 4:31
  • If the "fraud" is in some random website, not much you can do. Apr 11 at 4:32
  • Where do you come into the picture? Are you citing either of the two papers in your work, or are you only a concerned reader? Also, it isn't clear how much the fabrication affects the results of the paper. Please give a few more details so that you get better answers. Apr 11 at 6:21
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    Do nothing. There are more important things to focus on, such as making progress on your research. Apr 11 at 6:39
  • 1
    This seems relevant: xkcd.com/386 Apr 11 at 9:16
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It seems like the Chart author was interpreting the Paper's research, and basically created a new chart while citing the Paper as the "source", but that actual chart nor data exists on Paper at all.

Maybe the author created the chart from the paper's data and cited the paper as the data's source. You've mentioned the Chart is useful, suggesting the author added value. (Whilst also suggesting the chart is not true, which seems contradictory.)

what exactly do I do with the knowledge that the chart seems to be fabricated?

You could email the author and ask for clarification.

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    And when you contact the author of the website start with something like "I could not find in article XYZ where the data is you used in your graph. Could you help me with that?" Instead of accusing them of fabricating data. Apr 11 at 11:58
  • @MaartenBuis +1 Indeed!
    – user2768
    Apr 11 at 11:59

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