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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Melendez Science paper retracted, making 13

with 4 comments

alirio_melendezAlirio Melendez, who has already had 12 papers retracted from various journals and been found guilty of scientific misconduct by a former employer, has had a Science paper retracted.

Here’s the notice (which is behind a paywall):

There are several problems with the Report “Sphk1 regulates proinflammatory responses associated with endotoxin and polymicrobial sepsis” by P. Puneet et al. (1). Specifically, Figs. 3D and 4B contain images that were generated by author Puneet for the Science paper, but had been used in previous publications [see (2,3)] without her knowledge or consent. Images in Fig. 3D are also found in Fig. 4B. Irregularities in other figures have been suggested, and the validity of the data cannot be confirmed. Finally, sections of the text are similar or identical to sections of (4).

For these reasons, the authors below wish to retract the paper. Author Alirio J. Melendez has not been available to sign the Retraction. The National University of Singapore has completed an investigation into the irregularities in this paper and has concluded that sole responsibility for the irregularities rests with author Melendez.

The notice is signed by all of the authors except Melendez.

Science had issued an expression of concern about the paper in October 2011, after the authors replaced two figures in November 2010. The paper has been cited 62 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

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4 Responses

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  1. Finally.

    DEUS

    July 26, 2013 at 10:30 am

  2. The duplication of figures should have been enough for retraction and this was known a good time ago – why did it take until July 2013 before it was retracted?
    Whether Science is “better”: than NPG on this front is a moot point – there are plenty of papers with clear Western blot manipulation (one from the Baltimore lab that featured on the late lamented Science Fraud), which still stands.

    ferniglab

    July 27, 2013 at 10:03 am

  3. Statement Alirio J. Melendez 16/10/13,

    “The National University of Singapore (NUS) has blamed me for scientific fraud and misconduct for finding irregularities in several publications without showing any proof whatsoever that I am the guilty party for scientific fraud”

    There is no proof of this, and, since I did not take part in any scientific fraud at any time, there will be none. If there was any scientific misconduct being practised in a laboratory where I was the supervisor, it was completely without my knowledge.

    Moreover, of the papers in which NUS blamed me for fraud, I categorically deny having been party to any fraudulent or scientific misconduct. However, after being shown the evidence, I can see that somebody(s) working in a laboratory I supervised did commit scientific fraud. At the time of publication I did not see anything wrong with the papers, I have to stress that every paper is reviewed by peers of the highest calibre, three to five specialists, who also did not find any fraud in these papers. Of course, I do accept the “corresponding author” responsibility for overseeing the project, but I never knowingly, or otherwise, did anything wrong. I also trusted my co-workers absolutely, which may have been a mistake in hindsight, but one has to trust all team members.

    I must also stress that, for at least seven of the papers in which the NUS report found irregularities, I cannot be given any responsibility whatsoever because they were carried out in other investigators’ laboratories. I did not contribute with anything other than providing advice and/or specialised reagents. These papers are:
    1. Int. J Biochem Cell Biol 2010 Feb; 42(2):230-40. Jayapal M, Bhattacharjee RN, Melendez AJ, Hande MP.
    2. World J Biol Chem 2010 Nov 26; 1 (11): 321-6. Lai WQ, Melendez AJ, Leung BP.
    3. J Immunol 2009 Jul 15;183(2):1413-8. Lai WQ, Irwan AW, Goh HH, Melendez AJ, McInnes IB, Leung BP.
    4. Blood 2009 Jul 9;114(2):318-27. (NUS repport concern of plagiarism) Dai X, Jayapal M, Tay HK, Reghunathan R, Lin G, Too CT, Lim YT, Chan SH, Kemeny DM, Floto RA, Smith KG, Melendez AJ, MacAry PA.
    5. J Cell Physiol 2008 Mar; 214(3); 796-809. Newman JP, Banerjee B, Fang W, Poonepalli A, Balakrishnan L, Low GK, Bhattacharjee RN, Akira S, Jayapal M, Melendez AJ, Baskar R, Lee HW, Hande MP.
    6. Nitric Oxide 2008 Mar; 18(2), 136-45. Peng ZF, Chen MJ, Yap YW, Manikandan J, Melendez AJ, Choy MS, Moore PK, Cheung NS.
    7. Neuropharmacology 2007, 53, 687-98. Peng ZF, Koh CH, Li QT, Manikandan J, Melendez AJ, Tang SY, Halliwell B, Cheung NS.

    I had nothing to do with the data generation or analysis, nor with any part of the manuscript writing. This should be of common knowledge at NUS, so it brings out the question: “how can I be blamed for the above-mentioned papers ?….

    It does, however, raise a serious issue, which is that there appears to be a cover-up going on: firstly; for the truth of what has actually happened, and secondly; for the scale of what is going on at NUS.
    Although, without my knowledge, scientific misconduct has obviously been carried out in my laboratory, for which I apologise, however the real perpetrators of the misconduct are not being uncovered. In fact, very strangely, everybody else involved in these projects have been cleared by NUS. Thus, it can only be said that I have been, and am, the victim of an orchestrated campaign for discrediting me and being made a “scape goat”.

    One of my questions; several times I have requested for NUS to interview me (after I had sent written responses answering all the accusations in their reports), in an effort to help with their enquiries and in order to establish the full truth (with the confidence that I would then clear my name). I waited for answers to my letters to NUS for over a year, answers that never came. NUS then published their “conclusions” without my prior knowledge or acceptance, and was made public without informing me of any publication date.

    I categorically deny, and always will deny, the falsification of data and plagiarism of which I have been accused.

    Alirio Melendez

    October 17, 2013 at 8:42 am


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