A key piece of information was absent from the article concerning students who manipulated their nuclear magnetic resonance spectra (C&EN, April 21, page 32). It has been policy for many years at all American Chemical Society organic chemistry journals that evidence of the purity of characterized compounds must be provided.
The means suggested for meeting this policy are either a “clean” NMR spectrum or a high-performance liquid chromatography trace. This is necessary following the demise of elemental analysis to establish both elemental composition and purity. The article implies that the transgressions were fairly minor, but in fact, without manipulation of their data, these authors would have been unable to meet an editorial requirement for publication.
These are serious breaches of integrity, and publishing corrections is a mild punishment.
Michael PirrungApart from the lack of integrity on the part of those who manipulate spectra, it seems to me that the 'root cause' of this mess was the editorial decision that NMR spectra could be used to determine purity sufficient for publication.
(I wonder what Professor Pirrung thinks that the appropriate punishment should be?)