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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Fourth retraction results from Cardiff investigation

with 3 comments

mol immResearchers have retracted a fourth paper following an investigation at Cardiff University that found evidence of image manipulation by a researcher named Rossen Donev.

Here’s the notice for “The mouse complement regulator CD59b is significantly expressed only in testis and plays roles in sperm acrosome activation and motility,” a paper first published in Molecular Immunology in 2008:

This article has been retracted: please see Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy).

This article has been retracted at the request the Editor following the release of the conclusions of an internal investigation panel established by Cardiff University to examine allegations of research misconduct in the preparation of the manuscript. The panel found evidence of splicing or pasting affecting Figures 1B, 4A and 5, without indication that this had been done. While these image manipulations cannot be characterized as “fabrication” because there is no reason to doubt the validity of the underlying science in the article, they represent unacceptable practice when submitting a manuscript for publication. The panel concluded that Dr. Donev was solely responsible for these actions and that none of the other co-authors of this manuscript knew, or had reason to suspect, that the data presented in the manuscript had been manipulated by Dr. Donev.

The paper has been cited 18 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Donev, who is no longer at Cardiff, worked with former dean Paul Morgan. Morgan resigned in August but “categorically denied that his decision had anything to do with the misconduct investigation,” according to Times Higher Education. The previous three retractions were of papers in Cancer Research and the Journal of Immunology.

Hat tip: Tim D. Smith

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Written by Ivan Oransky

January 6, 2014 at 9:30 am

3 Responses

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  1. Kudos to Elsevier for retracting the paper because of “evidence of splicing or pasting affecting Figures 1B, 4A and 5, without indication that this had been done.”

    Inspection of the figures reveals that the Photoshop manipulation is very transparent [or clumsy], without any real [or "skillful"] attempt to hide the splicing and pasting. One simply has to look at a bit higher magnification to see the manipulations.

    What I’m questioning is the statement that there’s, “no reason to doubt the validity of the underlying science.”

    If the figures were spliced and pasted [and they were], isn’t that reason in itself to doubt the scientific validity? If the underlying gels etc were so awful that the figures couldn’t be made “acceptable” without splicing and pasting then there HAD to be a problem with the science.

    I think there’s more to the retraction than meets the eye initially.


    January 6, 2014 at 3:07 pm

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