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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

The new math: How to up your citations (hint: duplication). Plus a correction for Naoki Mori

with 3 comments

Here’s a good way to increase the number of times your work is cited: Publish studies three times.

On second (or third) thought, maybe not: The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology has retracted a pair of articles by three Japanese researchers who apparently liked their own work so much they decided to submit it, and submit it—and submit it again.

Here’s the notice for the first paper, a 2004 publication titled “Vitamin D receptor (VDR) promoter targeting through a novel chromatin remodeling complex,” by Shigeaki Kato, Ryoji Fujiki and Hirochika Kitagawa, fairly well-known molecular endocrinologists at the University of Tokyo:

This article has been retracted at the request of the authors as they had plagiarized the majority of their paper that had already appeared in Cell, 113 (2003) 905–917. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(03)00436-7 due to their misunderstanding of the respective publishing and copyright policies of the journal and a conference proceeding publication.

Ditto for the 2007 article “Ligand-induced transrepressive function of VDR requires a chromatin remodeling complex, WINAC.”

This article has been retracted at the request of the authors as they had plagiarized the majority of their paper that had already appeared in EMBO J., 24 (2005) 3881–3894, doi:10.1038/sj.emboj.7600853 due to their misunderstanding of the respective publishing and copyright policies of the journal and a conference proceeding publication.

Now watch the math: The 2004 paper has been cited 13 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge, while the Cell one it plagiarized had been cited an impressive 144 times. The 2007 one has been cited7, while the original EMBO Journal study was cited 53. Looks like the law of diminishing returns — not to mention you lose those cites when you retract.

The two notices are commendable for the amount of information they contain, from the rationale to the DOI listings. But we’re a little puzzled by why it took so long—seven years, in the first instance—for the researchers to recognize their “misunderstanding” and take steps to correct it.

Who knows, perhaps it was all the attention that their compatriot, Naoki Mori, has been receiving for his recycling of material. (We emailed Kato for comment but have yet to receive a reply.)

Speaking of Mori, a reader tipped us off to a correction involving one of Mori’s papers in BMC Microbiology, a 2007 titled “Mechanisms of Legionella pneumophila-induced interleukin-8 expression in human lung epithelial cells.”

According to the correction notice for the study, which has been cited 12 times:

 After the publication of this work (BMC Microbiol 2007, 7: 102), we became aware of the fact that beta-actin control images in Figures 2 (dotO mutant), 3A, 8A and 9A were duplicated. The last author, Naoki Mori takes full responsibility for these errors in the original article. We repeated the experiments, and all the Figures mentioned above were deleted and new data substituted. The conclusions from the figures are not altered in any way. We regret any inconvenience that this inaccuracy in the original data might have caused.

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3 Responses

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  1. Did you email Kato not Mori?

    unknown

    June 20, 2011 at 11:02 am

  2. John Smith

    July 20, 2011 at 6:13 am

  3. Shigeaki Kato resigned from his professor position at the University of Tokyo as of the end of March, 2012, taking responsibility of the misconduct. But the first author, Hirochika Kitagawa did not agree with the retraction of the Cell article. (Asahi newspaper, April 5, 2012)

    Soichi Tokizane

    April 7, 2012 at 2:08 am


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