The Journal of Clinical Oncology has issued an expression of concern about a 2003 article by a group of researchers in Spain who appear to have had recurrent problems with images.
The paper has been cited 56 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Here’s the notice:
It has been brought to our attention, regarding Figure 1, Part A, that similarity exists between bands 3, 4, and 5 of the top row and bands 1, 2, and 3 of the bottom row, including the presence of artifacts, in the April 15, 2003 article by [Jose] RomanGomez et al, entitled, “Cadherin-13, a Mediator of Calcium Dependent Cell-Cell Adhesion, Is Silenced by Methylation in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia and Correlates With Pretreatment Risk Proﬁle and Cytogenetic Response to Interferon Alfa” (J Clin Oncol 21:1472-1479, 2003). This similarity has raised concerns about whether these rows represent independent data. We alerted the corresponding author, Dr. Roman-Gomez, of this concern, and he has repeated the experiment shown in the original Figure 1, with the results below. Although the results of the ﬁgure appear to be unchanged, we wish to inform the readers of this issue, so that they may make their own independent assessment.
That’s transparent as it goes, but if Roman-Gomez was able to supply new figures that were consistent with genuine data, why be concerned? Similarly, if the journal believed that Roman-Gomez or someone in his lab was doctoring images, wouldn’t they be likely to submit bogus images to support their initial deception?
It turns out that Roman-Gomez and his colleagues had run into trouble with their images in the journal on another occasion.
A paper from the group was the subject of a 2010 expression of concern, again for image issues:
It has been brought to our attention that Figure 1 in the October 1, 2005, article by Roman-Gomez et al, entitled, “Lack of CpG Island Methylator Phenotype Defines a Clinical Subtype of T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Associated With Good Prognosis” (J Clin Oncol 23:7043–7049, 2005), was originally published by Clinical Cancer Research (Clin Cancer Res 10:6126–6133, 2004). A Correction Note has been published to correct this error as of September 20, 2010.
That correction notice read as follows:
The October 1, 2005, article by Roman-Gomez et al, entitled, “Lack of CpG Island Methylator Phenotype Defines a Clinical Subtype of T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Associated With Good Prognosis” (J Clin Oncol 23:7043–7049, 2005), contained an error.
An erroneous image was given as Figure 1. The corrected figure is reprinted here in its entirety.
We take the correction and the 2010 expression of concern to indicate that the researchers submitted to the JCO a partial, and thus manipulated, image from a previous publication in a different journal.
We emailed Roman-Gomez for comment but have yet to hear back.
Since the JCO wants its reading public to adjudicate the veracity of the images, here are a couple to consider:
From the 2005 publication that was corrected: