Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Correcting The Anatomical Record: Article pulled after former student lifted lab findings

without comments

The Anatomical Record, the official organ of the American Association of Anatomists, weighs its acceptances on “the quality of the research, its originality and significance to our readership.”

So it’s not surprising that when it gets duped, it gets angry.

Consider the following retraction notice that appeared recently in the publication for an article it ran early 2010:

The following article from The Anatomical Record, “S-Allyl-L-Cysteine Sulfoxide Inhibits Tumor Necrosis Factor-Alpha Induced Monocyte Adhesion and Intercellular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 Expression in Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells” by CHAI Hui, WO Like, FU Yan, XIE Tian, WANG Qiuyan, and HUANG Lifeng, published online on 20 January 2010 in Wiley Online Library (www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com) and in print in The Anatomical Record (Anat Rec (Hoboken) 2010 Mar;293(3):421-430. PMID: 20091890. DOI 10.1002/ar.21070), is retracted by agreement between the Journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Kurt H. Albertine, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

The retraction is agreed due to submitting against the rules of this journal, including misrepresentation of data and overlap with previously published data. Specifically, the authors reused text, figures, and graphs but changed identification of experimental conditions and labels on the figures and graphs from “Ginsenoside Rb1 Inhibits Tumor Necrosis Factor-α-Induced Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 Expression in Human Endothelial Cells by Chai Hui, Wang Qiuyan, Huang Lifeng, Xie Tian, and Fu Yan in Biol Pharm Bull 2008 31(11):2050-2056. The latter article was withdrawn (Biol Pharm Bull 32:1310, 2009) by the editorial committee of Biol Pharm Bull because the authors had submitted against the rules of that journal’s policy.

In addition, the authors of the paper published in The Anatomical Record omitted a coauthor, whose grant funding contributed to the research, and failed to acknowledge institutional and U.S. Federal grant support.

The study has been cited five times by other papers, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The notice in Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin sheds more light on this case. It reads:

The experimental date [sic] appeared in the above-mentioned article were partly performed in another institution (Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, U.S.A.). We deeply apologize for submitting this article without appropriate permission from Dr. Johnny Chen of the institution.

Therefore, we wish that this article written by Hui CHAI, Qiuyan WANG, Lifeng HUANG, Tian XIE, and Yan FU should be totally deleted from Biol. Pharm. Bull.

The letter is signed by Yan Fu (we think it’s this Yan Fu), of the College of Animal Sciences at Zhejiang University. Whose wish, by the way, was more of a command, as an addendum from the journal’s editorial committee indicates:

The editorial committee strictly protests to the authors that the above paper had been submitted against the rules (“Authorship Agreement”) of this journal policy.

Thus, this article has been totally deleted from this journal

Johnny Chen is Changyi Chen, vice chair of research at Baylor and an investigator for the Houston VA. He told us that the pivotal player here is Hui Chai, who worked in his lab as a student some years ago. Chai, it seems, had some trouble with the truth, according to Chen, who said she misled him and his colleagues more than once.

For example, Chen said, Chai told the lab she was preparing to go back to China, even attending a going-away party in her honor. But Chen was stunned to learn that she had moved to another lab — at Baylor. The researcher also failed to state on immigration documents that her brother was working in Chen’s lab, too.

Chen said he knew Chai wanted to publish on the projects she had been working on while in his lab — which had at least indirect federal grant support — but that he had insisted the data needed replication before they were ready for an article.

I didn’t agree. We spent a lot of money to do this, but we needed to confirm it.

Chen said he was astonished to see the articles on Medline, without even a mention that “100%” of the results were obtained in his lab.

It’s ridiculous! he said. How can they do that?

Comments
  • mameyn May 4, 2012 at 11:18 am

    “without even a mention that 100% of the results were obtained in his lab”

    According to the ICMJE, this is not enough to warrant authorship (“Acquisition of funding, collection of data, or general supervision of the research group alone does not constitute authorship.”)

    This raises an interesting point when you pull away all of the ethical lapses made by the student in this case. If a grad student/postdoc leaves a lab with a bunch of data and the former PI did not contribute to the research other than general supervision and funding, is the former student OK publishing without acknowledging the former mentor?

    BTW, the unsubstantiated gossip provided by the former PI is a bit unseemly.

    • Marco May 4, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      I would say the answer to your question is “no”. General supervision is a contribution, too. If the former PI does not want to participate in the paper, that changes it all. But at the very least the funding should be acknowledged.

      Note that Chen clearly did more than just provide funding and “general” supervision, considering that he wanted the data replicated before it would be acceptable for publication. That shows he was actively involved in the interpretation of the data.

      • LNV May 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm

        Yes, I think the distinction here is between “general” oversight of a laboratory, and mentoring of a student. The former is not sufficient according to the riules mameyn included in his/her post. But mentoring of a student is (usually) not general supervision. It is much more involved. I agree with Marco, that requesting replicates of data suggests that Dr. Chen was involved enough to earn authorship.

  • chirality May 5, 2012 at 7:37 am

    “In addition, the authors of the paper published in The Anatomical Record omitted a coauthor, whose grant funding contributed to the research”
    If the funding contributed to the research, then the funding should be made a co-author. Throwing money at scientists, does not make the thrower a contributor to any research. At least, that’s the theory. In reality, most big fish in science could not be bothered to practice actual science unless it is done by proxies.

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