Retraction for stem cell scientist facing misconduct inquiry
Here’s a retraction from Stem Cells and Development that we’re just now getting around to covering. The paper, “Non-viral reprogramming of skeletal myoblasts with valproic acid for pluripotency,” appeared in June 2012 in a preliminary online form and was written by a group at the University of Cincinnati. As the retraction notice states:
At the request of all authors of the Rapid Communication article entitled, “Non-viral reprogramming of skeletal myoblasts with valproic acid for pluripotency,” by Pasha Z and Ashraf M, which was published online ahead of editing (DOI: 10.1089/scd.2012.0080), the paper is being officially retracted from publication in its current form in Stem Cells and Development.
One of the paper’s co-authors, Zeeshan Pasha, indicated that some of the figures in the article were inadvertently and erroneously switched with another, more in-depth article that was being prepared at the same time for submission to another journal.
The authors regret this unfortunate circumstance.
Regrettable indeed. But not quite so simple. Are the authors apologizing for the switcheroo — or the bait and switch? That “more in-depth article” might well have constituted a duplicate submission depending on how similar it was to the retracted paper.
In fact, this case is more interesting than the semantics. Ashraf is Muhammad Ashraf, a former professor at the University of Cincinnati now embroiled in a rather bizarre lawsuit involving the institution. According to local media, Ashraf is suing U of C, from which he resigned in June, for refusing to allow him to reverse the decision to leave.
Reportedly, Ashraf, the recipient of “millions” in federal funding, was upset that U of C would not allow him to transfer those grants to his new institution, Georgia Regents University, which we once wrote about. So, rather than leave The Queen City, he decided to stay — but was rebuffed. According to an August 2 story:
Attorneys for the University of Cincinnati argued at a federal court hearing on Friday that Ashraf only wanted to leave because the school had launched an investigation into alleged academic misconduct against him.
Ashraf denies misconduct.