The University of Tokyo panel investigating the work of a former professor there, Shigeaki Kato, has recommended the retraction of 43 of his group’s articles, according to a report in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
If the papers are indeed retracted, Kato, who already has at least five articles subject to an expression of concern and five retractions, would be fifth on the list of most retractions for a single author, by our unofficial tally. His fellow countryman, Yoshitaka Fujii, continues to hold the lead at what appears to be 183, followed by Joachim Boldt (~89), John Darsee (~83), and Diederik Stapel, at 53. [See note at end.]
The Asahi report quotes Kato — who has received some $20 million in government funding for his work — as acknowledging problems with the data in his studies:
“There certainly were irregularities,” Kato said. “I used to place trust on the members of my lab. I have a major responsibility as a supervisor.
“I extend my heartfelt apologies to the parties involved.”
According to the paper, the University of Tokyo may move to revoke doctoral theses and other degrees based on the tainted research, although it did not specify how many might be affected. The paper said “more than 20” scientists had collaborated on the studies in question.
More from the article:
The panel report said the irregularities were discovered in a review of 165 scientific articles published between 1996 and 2011. They covered bone formation mechanisms, hormone function processes and other research subjects.
The 43 articles contained 25 alterations, such as the use of duplicated or reversed images, and 26 instances of forgery, including composition of different images. The irregularities were intended to make the experimental results look better, according to the panel.
The problems in Kato’s papers came to light in a YouTube video created by a whistleblower.
Update, 7:30 a.m. Eastern, 7/30/13: A reader has pointed out that the Darsee retraction count is a bit unclear. Although a few sources have it above 80, the numbers indexed on PubMed and Thomson Scientific are much lower. That may be because some of his retractions are classified as corrections in databases, and we will try to gather a complete list. In the meantime, we wanted to note that he may not be as high on the list of retraction record holders as we thought, meaning that Kato would be fourth, followed by Hyung-In Moon (35) and Naoki Mori (~32).