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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Journal dumps grain paper for controversial data

with 10 comments

productionThe journal Tropical Animal Health and Production has retracted a 2013 paper by a group from India whose data on feeding young cows special wheat wasn’t quite what it was cracked up to be.

The article, “Nutritional evaluation of wheat straw treated with Crinipellis sp. in Sahiwal calves,” found that:

Wheat straw was subjected to solid-state fermentation (SSF) with lignolytic white-rot fungus (WRF) Crinipellis sp. for 5 days to improve the nutritive value and digestibility. The fungal treatment caused a significant (P  < 0.05) decrease in cell wall constituents viz., neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF), hemicellulose, lignin, and cellulose to the extent of 10.4, 11.2, 8.7, 8.7, and 12.1 %, respectively, with increase (P < 0.05) in crude protein (CP) (51.6%) and ash (25.8%) contents in fungal treated wheat straw (FT-WS) than untreated wheat straw (UT-WS). Further, in vitro gas production, in vitro true dry matter digestibility and in vitro true organic matter digestibility at 48 h, metabolizable energy (ME) content, microbial biomass production, and short-chain fatty acids synthesis were significantly (P < 0.05) higher in FT-WS. In vivo feeding trial in 10 Sahiwal calves (8–12 months) comprised of (1) control group (T1) fed with ad libitum chopped UT-WS and (2) treatment group (T2) offered with ad libitum chopped FT-WS, in addition to supplementation of groundnut cake and green berseem (Trifolium alexandrium) forage to both groups. Digestibility of nutrients for dry matter (DM), organic matter, CP, NDF, ADF, hemicellulose, cellulose, and total carbohydrates were significantly (P < 0.05) higher in T2 compared to T1. Moreover, daily DM (P < 0.05), digestible crude protein (P < 0.01), and ME intakes were also higher (P < 0.05) in group T2 with higher (P < 0.05) nitrogen (N) retention, which resulted in significantly (P < 0.05) higher average daily gain in body weight (135 vs. 102 g/day). It was concluded that SSF with WRF Crinipellis sp. holds potential in upgrading the nutritional worth of wheat straw for feeding growing calves.

Here’s the notice:

The authors hereby retract the article entitled “Nutritional evaluation of wheat straw treated with Crinipellis sp. in Sahiwal calves” (Mahesh et al. 2013) previously published online first in Tropical Animal Health and Production as they had no permission to use the data presented in the Table 1, for publication.

And here’s the offending table.

Now, we’re not sure what it means to have “no permission” to use the data in question. Is it a copyright issue? A dispute over ownership? But we did find that two of the authors of the retracted article published a very similar paper, titled “Nutritional evaluation of wheat straw treated with white-rot fungus Crinipellis sp. RCK-SC in Sahiwal calves,” last month in Livestock Science.

Its abstract:

Digestibility of wheat straw is limited mainly by lignin in ruminants, and fungal treatment is known to improve its nutritional worth. In the present study, wheat straw, subjected to solid state fermentation with ligninolytic white-rot basidiomycetes fungus Crinipellis sp. RCK-SC for 10 days, was studied with untreated wheat straw for in vitro nutritional parameters like chemical composition, digestibility, gas production and ruminal parameters, followed by in vivo feeding trial in Sahiwal calves. The fungal treatment after 10 days led to significant (P<0.05) decrease in cell wall constituents viz. neutral detergent fiber (NDF), acid detergent fiber (ADF), hemicellulose, lignin and cellulose to the extent of 104.0, 121.9, 64.2, 29.97 and 73.9, g/kg DM, respectively. Crude protein (CP) and ash contents were increased (P<0.05) by 502.7 and 526.1, g/kg DM, respectively, in fungal treated wheat straw (FT-WS) than untreated straw (UT-WS). Further, in vitro gas production (GP24h), in vitro true dry matter digestibility and organic matter digestibility for 48 h, calculated metabolizable energy (ME) content, microbial biomass production and short chain fatty acids production were significantly (P<0.05) higher in FT-WS, while in vitro methane production (L) per kg of digestible dry matter was lower (P<0.05) in FT-WS. Ammonia nitrogen and total volatile fatty acids values were also significantly (P<0.05) higher in FT-WS. For in vivo feeding trial, ten healthy male Sahiwal calves (8–12 months) were divided into two groups based on comparable body weights following randomized block design. Control group (T1) was fed with ad libitum chopped wheat straw, whereas in treatment (T2), it was substituted with ad libitum chopped fungal treated wheat straw. Animals in both the groups were supplemented with groundnut cake to meet nitrogen requirement and green berseem (Trifolium alexandrium) forage to fulfill their vitamin A requirements. Digestibility of nutrients for DM, OM, CP, ether extract, NDF, ADF, hemicellulose, cellulose and total carbohydrates were significantly (P<0.05) higher in T2 compared to T1 group. Moreover, daily DM, digestible crude protein (P<0.01) and ME intakes were also higher (P<0.05) in T2 with higher (P<0.05) nitrogen retention (P<0.05), higher average daily gain in body weight and feed conversion ratio. This study suggested that the bioconversion of wheat straw using Crinipellis sp. RCK-SC holds potential in upgrading its nutritional value for feeding growing calves.

Oh, and the article also has a table, “Chemical composition (g/kg DM) of wheat straw (untreated and fungal treated), berseem forage and groundnut cake (n=5 per feed sample).” Note the similar values in the Wheat Straw column (which in the table above is a row), but the different values in the treated straw column:

Table 1. Chemical composition (g/kg DM) of wheat straw (untreated and fungal treated), berseem forage and groundnut cake (n=5 per feed sample)
Item Wheat straw Fungal treated wheat straw Groundnut cake Berseem forage
Organic matter 917.7a±8 874.4b±10 938.7±5.5 909.4±9
Crude protein 37.4a±1.1 56.2b±2.4 411.8±3 181.8±4.4
Ether extract 9.60a±1 5.90b±1 75.9±2 21.9±3.1
Ash 82.3a±8 125.6b±10 61.3±5.5 90.6±9
NDFom 737.5a±5.5 660.8b±4.2 236.7±5.9 411.0±4.7
ADFom 508.6a±2.4 446.6b±3 168.5±3.1 193.8±3
Hemicellulose 228.9a±3.2 214.2b±2.5 68.2±7 217.2±3.3
Cellulose 400.5a±5 370.9b±8.8 126.6±2 128.9±6.5
Lignin (sa) 108.1a±3.7 75.7b±4.9 41.9±1.3 64.9±2.8
T-CHO 870.7a±6 812.2b±8.2 451.0±5.5 705.7±7.3
*Values are given as mean±SE.
ab: Means bearing different superscripts within a same row differ significantly (P<0.05).
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  1. Chrysanthemum: 6 case studies of partial duplication

    I am focusing on post-publication peer review (PPPR; http://www.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpls.2013.00485/full) of several ornamental plants, including chrysanthemum. I wish to officially report here duplications (text, data, tables, figures) that remain in the literature without any action taken by the authors, the editors or the publishers. These cases form part of a deeper analysis of the chrysanthemum literature that examines the linguistic, editorial, scientific and ethical problems of papers in this ornamental plant. However, RW is a good place to gather moss. These errors need to be urgently corrected. In this report, I list 6 case studies.

    Case 1 Pakistan

    Paper 1: Waseem K, Jilani MS, Khan MS (2009). Rapid plant regeneration of chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium L.) through shoot tip culture. African Journal of Biotechnology 8(9): 1871-1877

    http://www.academicjournals.org/article/article1379775614_Waseem%20et%20al.pdf

    The publisher of Paper 1, Academic Journals of Nigeria, is on Beall’s 2014 list:

    http://scholarlyoa.com/2014/01/02/list-of-predatory-publishers-2014/

    Paper 2: Waseem K, Jilani MS, Jaskani MJ, Khan MS, Kiran M, Khan GU (2011) Significance of different plant growth regulators on the regeneration of chrysanthemum plantlets (Dendranthema morifolium L.) through shoot tip culture. Pakistan Journal of Botany 43(4): 1843-1848

    http://www.pakbs.org/pjbot/PDFs/43(4)/PJB43(4)1843.pdf

    The data of Table 2 and of Table 4 are IDENTICAL.

    Strangely, the PDF files of the PhD thesis were all available, but are all giving error messages now:
    http://eprints.hec.gov.pk/6437/1/495S.htm . In it, however, Waseem writes, as part of the dedication “I dedicate this humble effort, the fruit of thoughts and devotion to my affectionate parents and my wife whose inspiration and support enabled me to achieve the high ideals of my life.”

    Paper 2 should be retracted for partial duplication.

    Case 2. Belgium

    Paper 3 Eeckhaut T, Van Huylenbroeck J (2011) Development of an optimal culture system for callogenesis of Chrysanthemum indicum protoplasts. Acta Physiologiae Plantarum 33(4), 1547-1551

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11738-010-0660-1

    Paper 4 Eeckhaut T, Van Huylenbroeck J (2012) Chrysanthemum indicum protoplast callus induction and culture. Acta Horticulturae 961, 139-145

    http://www.actahort.org/books/961/961_15.htm

    Except for a small new data set, an estimated 95% of paper 4 is IDENTICAL (text, tables and figures) to paper 1.

    The dishonesty of the authors is astonishing. They fail to disclose the existence of Paper 4 in a review that was just published in December 2013 (Paper 5):
    Tom Eeckhaut, Prabhu Shankar Lakshmanan, Dieter Deryckere, Erik Van Bockstaele, Johan Van Huylenbroeck (2013) Progress in plant protoplast research. Planta December 2013, Volume 238, Issue 6, 991-1003

    http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/775/art%253A10.1007%252Fs00425-013-1936-7.pdf?auth66=1389312291_4f0c8262d04edcf5c6e091e84a921d21&ext=.pdf

    Paper 4 should be retracted for partial duplication, as should the Planta review (Paper 5), for false declarations about the literature (even if only concerning a single paper).

    Case 3. Bangladesh

    Paper 6 Karim MZ, Amin MN, Asad ZU, Islam S, Hassin F, Alam R (2002) Rapid multiplication of Chrysanthemum morifolium through in vitro culture. Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, 5(11): 1170-1172

    http://scialert.net/qredirect.php?doi=pjbs.2002.1170.1172&linkid=pdf

    Paper 7 Karim MZ, Amin MN, Azad MAK, Begum F, Rahman MM, Ahmad S, Alam R (2003a) In vitro shoot multiplication of Chrysanthemum morifolium as affected by sucrose, agar and pH. Biotechnology (Pakistan) 2(2), 115-120

    http://www.scialert.net/qredirect.php?doi=biotech.2003.115.120&linkid=pdf

    Paper 8 Karim MZ, Amin MN, Azad MAK, Begum F, Islam MM, Alam R (2003b) Effect of different plant growth regulator on in vitro shoot multiplication of Chrysanthemum morifolium. Online Journal of Biological Sciences, 3(6): 553-560

    http://scialert.net/qredirect.php?doi=jbs.2003.553.560&linkid=pdf

    Most of the data in Table 1 of papers 6 and 8 is identical, i.e., the paper 8 is a partial duplication of paper 6. Fig. 1A of paper 6 is identical to Fig. 1B of paper 7. Almost the entire text of the M&M is identical to the text of papers 6 and 8, i.e., self-plagiarism.

    Thus, papers 7 and 8 should be retracted for partial duplication.

    The publisher of Papers 6, 7, and 8, The Asian Network of Scientific Information (ANSInetwork), based in Pakistan, is also listed on Beall’s list of predatory OA publishers.

    Case 4 South Korea

    Paper 9 Naing AH, Kim CK, Yun BJ, Jin JY, Lim KB (2013a) Primary and secondary somatic embryogenesis in Chrysanthemum cv. Euro. Plant Cell, Tissue Organ Cult. 112, 361–368

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11240-012-0243-5

    http://download.springer.com/static/pdf/132/art%253A10.1007%252Fs11240-012-0243-5.pdf?auth66=1389314424_5973e953ef8eebfd9659473c6e552cde&ext=.pdf

    Paper 10 Naing AH, Min JS, Park KI, Chung MY, Lim SH, Lim KB, Kim CK (2013b) Primary and secondary somatic embryogenesis in Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum morifolium) cv. ‘Baeksun’ and assessment of ploidy stability of somatic embryogenesis process by flow cytometry. Acta Physiologiae Plantarum 35, 2965-2974

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11738-013-1328-4

    Paper 10 self-plagiarizes large tracts of text (approximately 5 paragraphs) already published in paper 9. Springer acknowledged the self-plagiarism and offered to “warn” the authors.

    The unintended message given by Springer by not retracting the paper and by not issuing an erratum or expression of concern: self-plagiarism can be committed and all you will get is a warning e-mail

    Case 5 Jordan

    Paper 11 Shatnawi, M., A. Fauri, R. Shibli, M. Al-Mazraawi, H. Megdadi and I. Makhadmeh. 2009. Tissue culture and salt stress in Chrysanthemum morifolium. Acta Horticulturae 829: 189-196

    http://www.actahort.org/books/829/829_27.htm

    Paper 12 Shatnawi, M., Al-Fauri, A., Megdadi, H., Al-Shatnawi, M.K., Shibli, R., Abu-Romman, S., Al-Ghzawi, A.L. 2010. In vitro multiplication of Chrysanthemum morifolium Ramat and it is responses to NaCl induced salinity. Jordan Journal of Biological Sciences 3(3): 101-110

    http://jjbs.hu.edu.jo/files/v3n3/In%20Vitro%20Multiplication%20of%20Chrysanthemum.pdf

    Paper 12 is a complete duplication of paper 11’s data set (although text is cleverly re-shuffled in paper 12 to give the impression of originality) and should thus be retracted. Despite the exact same data set, the authorship is different, suggesting guest authorship in at least one paper.

    Case 6 France

    Paper 13 Hitmi, A; Barthomeuf, C; Sallanon, H (1999a) Cryopreservation of Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium shoot tips. Effects of pretreatment conditions and retention of biosynthetic capacity. Cryo Letters 20(2), 113-120
    http://www.cryoletters.org/Abstracts/abstracts.htm (no link to abstract or text available)

    Paper 14 Hitmi, A; Coudret, A; Barthomeuf, C; Sallanon, H (1999b) The role of sucrose in freezing tolerance in Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium L-cell cultures. Cryo Letters 20(1), 45-54
    http://www.cryoletters.org/Abstracts/abstracts.htm (no link to abstract or text available)

    Paper 15 Hitmi, A; Barthomeuf, C; Sallanon, H (2000a) Cryopreservation of Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium shoot tips. Journal of Plant Physiology 156, 408-412

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0176161700800814

    Paper 16 Hitmi, A; Coudret, A.; Barthomeuf, C; Sallanon, H (2000b) Role of intracellular water retention strength in freezing tolerance of Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium Vis. cell cultures. Journal of Plant Physiology 157, 47-53

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0176161700801340

    Table 3 of paper 13 is identical to Table 2 of paper 15.
    Table 1 of paper 14 shows the exact same data as Table 1 of paper 16.
    Data of water content in figure 2 of paper 14 is identical to (differently represented as a table) the data in Table 2 of paper 16.
    Data of Fig. 2 of paper 14 is identical to the data presented in Fig. 1 of paper 16.

    Thus, papers 15 and 16 should be retracted for partial duplication.

    Mini conclusions:
    a) These problems are not restricted to a particular culture, ethnic or geographic group. In fact, they span both poor and rich, developed and developing worlds.
    b) Publishing problems have not been detected by established publishers (Springer and Elsevier in these cases), by less established publishers, or (understandably) by possible predatory open access publishers.
    c) Although reports have been filed about some of these cases, yet no errata, expressions of concern or retractions have been issued.

    Points to ponder:
    1) Does this suggest that there is no appetite to correct the literature?
    2) What does it say about quality control during peer review?
    3) What can be said about editorial responsibilities and the social and corporate responsibility of publishers, especially if literature that is duplicating data or showing lack of ethical or scientific integrity continues to be sold for a profit?
    4) If some of the top (i.e., with a good impact factor) journals are harboring papers with partial duplication, self-plagiarism or other scientifically questionable content or practices, and nothing is done to correct the literature, then why does Thomson Reuters continue to assign them with an impact factor? Would this surely not suggest that Thomson Reuters is supporting (or not doing anything to address) such behavior?

    Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva

    January 7, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    • Regarding your final points, my tuppen’orth:

      1) On the part of the publishers, on the whole. no. They won’t act unless the University/Institution/Authors instruct them too.Messy libel actions and whatnot in the past have put paid to the publishers taking a stand, if they were ever inclined to do so. Whether the Uni/Institute etc actually act responsibly is probably related the where it is in the world. The likelihood of an Institution acting properly (i.e. investigating at any level above a sham effort) I would wager is related to its geography in relation to the following index: http://www.transparency.org/cpi2013/results
      2) Pretty poor on the whole. Conscientious reviewers who aren’t part of a cartel are diamonds in the dust. And how many have access to the tools required to check image manipulation or textual plagiarism?
      3) Corporations are psychopaths. They act accordingly. They will kill, and have killed, plenty of golden gooses in the past, or at least stand by and do nothing while they whither away.
      4) Are you seriously suggesting that Thomson Reuters be appointed as judge, jury and executioner of every accusation, proven or otherwise, of malpractice in scientific publishing? *Shudders*.

      With points 3 & 4 you really are barking up the wrong tree, in my opinion. The universities and institutions are where you might find a lever to pull on. They are corrupt and do participate frequently in cover-ups, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be pressured and shamed into “doing the right thing” in the end. I assume your intention with the long and detailed exposition of precise details in your post was an attempt to achieve said pressure. Exactly what should be done. Screenshot this page and send it to the Institutional directors of all the authors mentioned in your post. Point out the wide readership and damage to their institutional reputations. It may have an effect, although probably not, but if you don’t, there’s no chance it ever will. Many variables are in play, but there is one constant in every single case such as these – there will be personal cost for you. Great or small, it will arrive. That is guaranteed.

      BoDuke

      January 8, 2014 at 1:37 pm

      • Geese! Golden geese! Goodness gracious, the shame, the shame…

        BoDuke

        January 8, 2014 at 1:39 pm

        • BoDuke, Words of wisdom and some constructive feed-back. Thank you. My entire career has been of sacrifice, as has that of many scientists I know. So, it is understandable that retractions are a stressful and psychologically severely damaging aspect of science publishing because, in some cases, they may truly have reflected honest errors. But in other cases, they are pure fraud. Many have been critical of my ideas and my opinions, and I understand that my temperament goes against the grain of what corporations and institutions would like to see in their ovine audiences. I have lost dearly for that. And I have suffered personally and professionally for taking my stance. Unlike what you state, the personal cost for me arrived several years ago already. So, this represents simply only one more step along a years-old upward climb to do something about it. As Russel Crowe said in the 2010 Robin Hood movie: “Rise and rise again until lambs become lions.” We should not allow our critics to knock us down.

          Yet, errors and in some cases, crass duplication, as I exemplify above, are clear and are facts. Independent of the intention. There is nothing to fear here. Scientists may rush to lawyers in a frantic effort to save their images. And lawyers may accuse wildly of libel because at the end of the day they need to put food on their table too, so they might as well defend someone on either side of the ethical fence. But finally, exposure of lists as I have made above, irrefutable evidence, is something that not even the law can fight (at least not logically). The above list is only STEP 1. I have a compiled text about 120 pages long and with about 40 pages of screenshots regarding the chrysanthemum literature ready for publication. PPPR of other ornamentals are already in review, or on the way. Wherever papers cannot be published in reputed journals, they will be self published. But they will be published and will serve as historical documents for future generations of plant scientists to appreciate what is taking place right now.

          The proverbial war in plant science has begun, as I predicted in 2013 in the Liberate Science movement (http://www.globalsciencebooks.info/JournalsSup/images/2013/AAJPSB_7(SI1)/AAJPSB_7(SI1)5o.pdf) but it can only be won when hearts and minds stand behind a concerted effort to bring a new form of justice to science publishing. Even if that puts our own necks and reputations on the line. Scientific martyrdom? One of the problems about older papers is that scientists move on, especially researchers or post-docs, so claims to institutes are almost meaningless. That is why scientists have to take on “vigilantism”, quality control and PPPR on their own, fearless of the critics, even from their own peers. One of the sad realities, however, is that science is the bread-winner for most scientists. They rely on their positions to pay the bills, their mortgages and to put food on their own tables. So, they are not willing to expose their names or their reputations, even if it is in the name of doing something right, or something ethical. I have offered a veiled criticism of plant scientists for their lack of pro-active efforts to deal with misconduct: http://www.globalsciencebooks.info/JournalsSup/images/2013/AAJPSB_7(SI1)/AAJPSB_7(SI1)1-4o.pdf. I got a lot of very negative feed-back about that opinion piece, most likely because so much of it was true. In some ways, I don’t blame the scientific community for not doing more. If they did, they would be doing the giant corporations a giant service by cleaning up the mess on their own. So, maybe we should be thankful for the cowardly and reserved nature of most scientists because this puts more pressure on editors and publishers to respond how so much bad science and lack of ethics could have passed through their often abominable “peer review” systems.

          Regarding Thomson Reuters, actually I was being rather facetious. Everyone knows that the IF is gamed and that the IF is only a measure of the number of times a paper is referenced in often corporately-owned data-bases, and does not in fact represent a measure of quality (even if there may be correlations between both), and Thomson Reuters has failed to respond, one year on, to my public queries about the impact factor and about its lack of transparency: http://www.globalsciencebooks.info/JournalsSup/images/2013/AAJPSB_7(SI1)/AAJPSB_7(SI1)81-83o.pdf. So, no, of course I do not expect Thomson Reuters to do anything about ethics or correcting the literature, because this company, like all other corporations, is simply about enhancing its own globalist agenda and making its image shine.

          You are spot-on about the corporate outlook, but scientists are often too busy to appreciate this aspect, which is always made over with beautiful web-sites, carefully crafted PR messages and always kind and gentle responses to claims, in order to avoid PR fiascos. Unfortunately, the population density of several countries gives these corporations the edge in this war in science because they have the ovine numbers to support their globalist initiatives. It’s time to pull off this plastic lining off science and get down to the raw base of facts and communication. Fortunately, all scientists understand facts, so the key question that now remains is, will they accept them and do something about it? A critical mass will not emerge from institutions, publishers or governments, all of whom are only seeking to preserve their images. It will come from the grass-roots scientists who came to this field of study out of passion and love for a discipline.

          How will plant scientists support the movement to re-appraise the entire plant science literature? Who will do this? And how will errors and fraud be dealt with? My experience in the past few months in my personal efforts, especially when submitting PPPR reports to top level plant science journals, is that the editors and publishers are to afraid to even touch these papers. They fear the facts. They fear the consequences. So, they reject by stating: “The paper is beyond the scope of this journal.” It’s time for these lame excuses to stop. It’s time to expose the lame editors who make such lame excuses, and it’s time for the golden goose to lay her eggs again the way it was meant to be:
          The story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Goose
          The moral: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Goose_That_Laid_the_Golden_Eggs

          Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva

          January 8, 2014 at 2:40 pm

          • An update. E-mail sent at 10:14 AM, 6 February, 2014 (all e-mails removed; other than that absolutely no other text was edited)

            Dear Prof. Yves Desjardins, Director of Publications,
            Prof. Antonio Monteiro, President of the ISHS (ISA, Portugal),
            Dr. Kim Hummer, Vice-President of the ISHS (USDA, USA),
            Prof. Errol Hewitt, Secretary – responsible for innovation, industry and insight (IFNHH, New Zealand)
            Prof. Ian J. Warrington, Co-President of the ISHS and IHC2014 (Massey University, New Zealand)
            Ir. Jozef Van Assche, Executive Director ISHS Secretariat (Belgium)
            http://www.ishs.org/ishs-board, International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS; http://www.ishs.org/)

            I have also CC’d the ISHS executive because this is an extremely important and historical decision and communique. I have also CC’d Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus of Retraction Watch (http://retractionwatch.com/), as a formal request to include this story on their blog, now that we have received formal confirmation that a retraction is due.

            Thank you so much for finally taking notice of my concerns. It is unfortunate that I had to revert to a campaign of public exposure, to achieve what should have been quite a simple decision, and that your inability to take action several months ago could only be realized once I had made my case to the ISHS and to IHC2014 board of directors.

            Could you kindly please inform me as soon as you have a PDF file and/or notice indicating that the Acta Horticulturae paper has been retracted. I recommend that you consult Elsevier, or even Retraction Watch to observe some of the criticisms about retraction notices that are unclear, incomplete, or that do not describe the situation in detail.

            This is an extremely historical day, and a first step in the right direction in the ISHS’ ability to demonstrate that it is able to face the challenges that face modern science publishing. But please note that the global horticultural community wants to form part of this reform process, in particular the approx. 7500 paying ISHS members, who want the process to be open, fair, transparent, and not decisions made in secret, or being closed doors. The horticultural community also wishes to be consulted on important decisions related to the ISHS and to publishing violations or the publication of poor science in Acta Horticulturae.

            I am also pleased to read that you hold such issues of duplication seriously, but I believe that this may be the first case of a retraction at Acta Horticulturae. If not, could you please indicate a full list of papers that have been retracted from Acta Horticulturae because a search on the Acta Horticulturae web-page (http://actahort.org/) does not reveal any hits. Which suggests that the Eeckhaut and Van Huylenbroeck case may be the first retraction by Acta Horticulturae.

            However, I noticed that you only alluded to one of the Eeckhaut and Van Huylewnbroeck papers, but not the second one with partial duplication of data, a serious chunk of self-plagiarism and also a case of salami slicing. Please can you indicate clearly how you plan to analyze that case, and if you are going to issue an expression of concern, erratum, corrigendum or retraction for that paper. You also made no explicit mention of the Hoshino et al. duplication on Vitis genetic transformation. I assume that is simply an administrative issue and that you are dealing with each paper, one by one.

            As I indicated quite clearly on previous occasions, there are numerous cases of duplications, partial or in full, plagiarism or self-plagiarism and also of frankly-speaking poor or unscholarly science having been published in Acta Horticulturae. In order to deal with these cases professionally, quickly and responsibly, could you please indicate the following:
            1) To whom exactly a complaint should be filed. May I suggest at least 3 contact e-mails to serve as collateral witnesses to a complaint. Could you please also indicate a page on the ISHS and Acta Horticulturae pages that specifically talks about duplications, plagiarism and other unethical publishing practices, about the policies that you claim are in place, and also a list of a panel of scholars (i.e., a team) who will be assisting you in resolving what will soon become a string of claims and complaints about Acta Horticulturae. It is evident that you alone cannot complete the task.
            2) The exact period of time it will take to issue a retraction.
            3) The exact format and visual display of a retracted Acta Horticulturae paper. May I suggest open access format with the full text clearly visible and a red RETRACTED stamped across every page (easy to do using in PDF format using Acrobat Professional). One excellent, exemplary example is by the EIC of Folia Horticulturae, Prof. Rafal Baranski, http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/fhort.2013.25.issue-2/fhort-2013-0019/fhort-2013-0019.xml?format=INT. Alternatively, since you appear to be working with Elsevier Ltd., perhaps the ideal way would be to follow a retraction based on this style:
            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304423813003828; http://ac.els-cdn.com/S030442381200595X/1-s2.0-S030442381200595X-main.pdf?_tid=97af3bba-8ec7-11e3-a1c4-00000aab0f02&acdnat=1391647544_30b937dba2c0f57dc323788af90186b3

            In closing, I wish to applaud the ISHS for finally doing the right thing. However, this is but the very first case, and the very first step. As soon as the retraction note appears for the Eeckhaut and Van Huylenbroeck paper(s), I will then present the next case of duplication, and so forth, expecting each one to be treated as professionally and efficiently as this case.

            We share the same values in plant science. We were all drawn to horticulture out of passion. We recognize that humans make errors, as do editors and publishers. But we also recognize that to do nothing does not resolve the problems. Thus, a retraction is precisely the correct way to teach our youth, and to show that this is at the moment the only viable way to correct the literature.

            I look forward to working closely with you, as the ISHS Board Member Responsible for Publications, in a long and productive process to reform Acta Horticulturae and the ISHS.

            Sincerely,

            Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva
            Disclaimer: I am not associated with any publisher, editor board, or institute. I thus declare no conflicts of interest, academic, financial, or other.

            On Thursday, February 6, 2014 2:03 AM, Yves Desjardins wrote:
            Dear Dr. Teixeira,

            I whish to thank you for informing me of the case of duplication of the paper by Eeckhaut and Van Huylenbroeck in Acta Horticulturae. This is indeed unacceptable and we have asked the authors to withdraw the problematic article from the PubHort database and I have contacted the Editor of Elsevier to inform her that an official retraction will be printed on the web page of Acta Horticulturae. We have also asked Thomson Reuther WoK and Scopus to stop indexing the paper. Elsevier have accepted this arrangement and consider the case closed. ISHS hold its authors to high ethical standards. When we come across cases of duplication, we are acting promptly and retracting the papers swiftly. I also thank you for pointing out the other case of duplication of results. I will inquire right away and request a retraction by the authors.

            Sincerely yours,

            Yves

            Yves Desjardins
            ISHS Board Member responsible for publications
            Centre de recherche en horticulture
            Institut des Nutraceutiques et des Aliments Fonctionnels
            Pavillon Envirotron,
            2480 boul. Hochelaga, Québec, Québec
            Canada, G1V 0A6

            1) To refresh the memory. The paper that will be retracted is:
            http://www.actahort.org/books/961/961_15.htm Actually, it looks retracted (it happened in the past few hours or days), but look at the frivolous way in which the notice was scribbled here. An incredibly unprofessional job. Even though the paper has been retracted, this is totally unacceptable.
            2) The paper I am referring to with partial data duplication, three full paragraphs of self-plagiarized text and a clear case of salami slicing is this one: http://www.actahort.org/books/953/953_45.htm (PDF file available upon request)

            Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva

            February 5, 2014 at 8:22 pm

            • An update on Case 5. The Editor-in-Chief of Jordan Journal of Biological Sciences (JJBS), the home of the paper with heavily duplicated (and manipulated) data, Professor Khaled H. Abu-Elteen, states “The JJBS (2010) is a detailed paper using some data from the conference paper as well as additional data (one table and two figures) and a re-written of all conference paper components; including the design as well as the methodologies.” If so, then why did the authors not just submit the original data, namely the one table and two figures? That would have been the ethically correct thing to do. One would expect more publishing responsibility from the senior author Prof. Rida Shibli. The bottom line: duplicated data exists in the literature and the chrysanthemum literature remains uncorrected and corrupted. The ethical transgressors are Scott-free and are now even supported (ethically) by the journal and the editorial team. This is just one example of how protectionist attitudes towards the status quo in plant science are leading to the gradual corruption of some of the plant science literature. This is nothing more than a classical case of a Jordanian EIC protecting a leading Jordanian horticultural scientists to save face and to protect the image of country, journal and status. All at the expense of science’s integrity. This is a black day for academic justice. Is there any advice about how such cases can be resolved and how the journal and the EIC should be held accountable?

              Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva

              February 10, 2014 at 7:04 pm

              • Prof. Michael Garrick (Buffalo, USA) of the international section of the editor board of the Jordanian Journal of Biological Sciences has just confirmed that data was duplicated in both papers and that the previous publication in Acta Horticulturae was not duly acknowledged. He has called on the editor in chief, Professor Khaled H. Abu-Elteen, to take corrective measures, but believes that a retraction is not necessary. He has also called for a retrospective analysis of the content of JJBS, I assume to check for plagiarism and/or duplications. Let’s see what comes of this. I will update as there is new and significant progress.

                Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva

                February 17, 2014 at 6:13 pm

                • Case 4 update

                  I wish to provide a verbatim retraction notice that will appear for a a third paper by Naing et al., published in the Journal of Horticultural Science and Biotechnology (JHSB). This is a significant new development in chrysanthemum biotechnology and casts serious doubts on the veracity of the data in the Plant Cell, TIssue and Organ Culture (PCTOC) and Acta Physiologiae Plantarum (APP) papers. I renew my calls for retraction of the APP and PCTOC papers based on this new, and extremely serious, evidence.

                  A. H. NAING, M. Y CHUNG, K. B. LIM and C. K. KIM (2013) Secondary somatic embryogenesis in Chrysanthemum morifolium (Ramat.) cv. Borami. The Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology
                  Vol. 88 No: 6, pp. 762-767.

                  “RETRACTION
                  It has been brought to my attention that the article “Secondary somatic embryogenesis in Chrysanthemum morifolium (Ramat.) cv. Borani” by Naing et al., published in the Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology (2013) 88, 762-767, is essentially an exact copy of a paper previously published by Naing et al. in Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture (2013) 112, 361-368 entitled “Primary and secondary somatic embryogenesis in Chrysanthemum cv. Euro”. Apart from the fact that two different cultivars were studied, with some slightly different results, almost all of the main texts, Tables, Figures, and References are identical. Serious scientific malpractices such as the falsification of data and blatant plagiarism are not tolerated by this, or any other reputable peer-reviewed research Journal. I must therefore retract the former article from the Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology.
                  Dr. T. Michael A. Wilson CBiol FSB FRSE
                  Editor, JHSB ”

                  The plant science community applauds this action, and hopes that its financial partner, The International Society for Horticultural Science, will follow suit, in what is now starting to reveal serious cases of duplication in Acta Horticulturae papers, despite its formal claims of being peer reviewed, flawless and academically sound: http://www.ishs.org/faq/acta-horticulturae-sound-peer-reviewed-journal

                  We also strongly encourage Prof. Wilson to make the to-be retracted Naing et al. paper, published in JHSB, to be open access, with a big red RETRACTED pasted over it. A post-publication peer review of the entire content of PCTOC, APP and JHSB must now take place, i.e., a retrospective in-depth analysis to ascertain if there are other cases of plagiarism, or duplication.

                  Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva

                  February 27, 2014 at 11:59 am

                  • A double update for Case 4. Two errata were issued for the PCTOC and APP papers:
                    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11240-014-0427-2 (PCTOC)
                    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11738-014-1501-4 (APP)

                    Now, my frank analysis. Despite having reported about 50 and 80 errors, respectively for the PCTOC and APP papers, only about 5 and 1 errors were published in the errata, respectively. These errata are only pasted on SpringerLink to act as a superficial Band-Aid, to give the false impression by the editors and the publisher, whose quality control failed abysmally, that they are somehow trying to improve or correct the extremely flawed record in these journals. There are some great studies in these journals, but there are also many papers with serious flaws, or just flaws, that need to be corrected. The former Editor-in-Chief of PCTOC, Prof. Schuyler S. Korban, fails to take responsibility as the EIC of the journal for information he has approved and allowed to process, while the new EIC, Prof. Sergio Ochatt, is doing an equally dismal job of his predecessor. I believe that this reflects a serious cover-up by Springer and by the editor boards of these two top-class plant science journals. This is a serious negative blow to transparency, honesty and openness in plant science publishing. When the “respectable” peers in plant science cannot be trusted to provide accurate information to the public, and when the publisher is clearly suppressing any critique of its journal’s papers, then how can we trust that the peer review process is honest, unbiased, or effective? How can we trust our peers who, on one hand, claim to be doing peer review, but on the other hand, fail to report fair, balanced and critical criticisms of the literature in journals for which they serve as editors? Something is extremely wrong with this picture here. I should add that not once did I ever receive a thank you for bringing these issues to the attention of these editors, journals, journal managers. This serves as a clear and perfect example of how even if we should hold the gate-keepers of quality accountable, how their power, supported by the power of the publisher, and its “ethics group” and lawyers, can suppress the truth. I now have no choice but to publish the full truth and expose the flaws of these studies, following post-publication peer review, and show the academic community, using exact facts, how the truth is being distorted by Springer and these Editor Boards.

                    I call publically on any member of the PCTOC and APP editor board or on any Springer management to respond publically to these claims here, on this blog. I will duly inform them of this blog claim so that everyone in this case is on an even par.

                    Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva

                    March 4, 2014 at 4:00 pm

                • Prof. Abu-Elteen has issued an erratum*. The erratum basically indicates that plagisrims was unintentional, but the plagiarized paper with duplicate data remains in the literature. Such errata are academic farses and do nothing to correct the stained literature. Shame on this Jordanian journal and on these Jordanian scientists for feigning ignorance and naivety. When the academic community serves only to defend its interests, and not the integrity of science, by protecting the ivory tower members like Prof. Rida Shibli, then we know that plant science is in crisis.

                  * http://jjbs.hu.edu.jo/files/v7n2/Erratum-%20Final%20Editorial%20Board%20Approvale%20‘.pdf

                  Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva

                  June 9, 2014 at 3:56 am


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