Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Second helpings: Immunology journal retracts paper for plagiarism, then U Bari investigation reveals fraud

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The journal Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology has retracted a 2011 paper by an Italian nursing researcher who lifted text and data from a previously published work, and made up results to fill gaps, too.

Here’s the notice:

The following article which was first published online ahead of print on 2nd of November 2011 has been retracted from publication in Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology:

Elsa Vitale. An evaluation of the association of malnutrition with nosocomial infections in elderly patients. Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology 2011, 1–4, Early Online. DOI: 10.3109/08923973.2011.625033

This article has been found to reproduce content to a high degree of similarity, without appropriate attribution or acknowledgement by the authors, from the following original article:

Elena Paillaud, Stephane Herbaud, Philippe Caillet, Jean-Louis Lejonc, Bernard Campillo, Phuong-Nhi Bories. Relations between undernutrition and nosocomial infections in elderly patients. Age and Ageing 2005, 34, 619–625. DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afi197.

In addition, because some of Dr Vitale’s data is identical to some of Dr Paillaud’s, we have advised Dr Vitale’s institution, the University of Bari, to investigate the origin and source of her data.

Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology published this article in good faith, and on the basis of warranties made by the corresponding author regarding the originality of her work. The article is withdrawn from all editions by the Editor. The author accepted this decision.

Emilio Jirillo (Editor in Chief)

Joris Roulleau (Managing Editor, Informa Healthcare)


After the publication of this retraction statement, it has since been confirmed that the article does also contain instances of data fabrication.

It’s conceivable that Jirillo and Vitale were known to each other before the mess.  Both are (or were) on staff at the University of Bari.

  • mort shirkhanzadeh July 6, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    The notice of retraction by Emilio Jirillo seems to be relatively transparent.

    In 2009, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences retracted a paper entitled: The Influence of Gravity on the Precise Measurement of Solute Diffusion Coefficients in Dilute Liquid Metals and Metalloids. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 974: 57–67 (2002)). The authors were Reginald W. Smith, Xiaohe Zhu, Mark C. Tunnicliffe, Timothy J. N. Smith, Lowell Misener, and Josee Adamson.

    According to the notice of retraction (, the paper was “retracted by agreement among the authors, the Annals director and executive editor, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc.”

    There was no mention of the fact that the retracted paper was copied from a single-authored paper that was published four years earlier in Microgravity Science &Technology. There was no mention of the fact that Xiaohe Zhu, Mark C. Tunnicliffe, Timothy J. N. Smith, Lowell Misener, and Josee Adamson were not co-authors in the original paper.

    • David Hardman July 7, 2012 at 5:41 am

      ” instances of data fabrication”.
      How many, what type?

  • David Hardman August 30, 2012 at 6:59 am

    Editor-in-chief steps down.

    “We are sorry to announce that Prof. Emilio Jirillo is stepping down as Editor in Chief of Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology, effective 15 June 2012.”

    Is there any significance?

    Also a new retraction:

    Statement of retraction

    Posted online on August 29, 2012. (doi:10.3109/08923973.2012.710052)

  • Pippo August 31, 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Interestingly, I found this document on the UniBA website:

    In Italy, there is an exam to pass in order to be admitted to the graduate school (Dottorato di Ricerca), and in this document they announce the winner of the competition. The person with the best score is awarded both the only place available in grad school and a supporting fellowship (Ms. Boffola). However, strangely enough, Elsa Vitale is admitted to grad school as well, despite having a very low score. At least she got no fellowship. Still, I wonder what happened to the 5 other people that obtained a higher score than Vitale.

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