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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Researcher who tampered with investigation up to 8 retractions

with 4 comments

Journal of Medicinal ChemistryKarel Bezouška, the scientist who tried to derail an investigation into his work by breaking into a lab refrigerator has had an eighth paper retracted.

Here’s the notice for “Synthetic N-Acetyl-d-glucosamine Based Fully Branched Tetrasaccharide, a Mimetic of the Endogenous Ligand for CD69, Activates CD69+ Killer Lymphocytes upon Dimerization via a Hydrophilic Flexible Linker:”

The authors retract this article, as it was found that experiments describing binding of natural killer cell receptors to carbohydrate ligands could not be repeated and the identity of the proteins used in the experiments cannot be guaranteed. Authors who were reached support the retraction of this paper. Evidence of scientific misconduct on the part of Karel Bezouška has been found by the joint Ethical Committee established by the Institute of Microbiology of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and the Faculty of Science at the Charles University in Prague. The authors emphasize, however, that the publication contains accurate data in the section entitled “Chemistry” and in the sections on the synthesis of linear and branched oligosaccharides in the article as well as in the related Supporting Information. The structures of the synthesized compounds were fully characterized by physical methods that are standardly used in the saccharide chemistry, i.e., by NMR spectroscopy, MS spectrometry, and elemental analysis. The authors apologize to all affected parties.

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

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Written by Ivan Oransky

June 17, 2014 at 11:00 am

4 Responses

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  1. No comment, but a question. Can the other authors resumit their work in a different article? If so, will they have to explain what happened with the first publication?

    Sharon O'Connor

    June 17, 2014 at 11:43 am

    • I think they can, as long as they are sure none of their work was interfered with by the rogue scientist. I don’t think they need to explain in the publication itself about the retraction, but they can if they want to, and cite the original paper as ‘retracted’. I think they should explain to any new journal or editor about the retraction in a cover letter.

      Dan Zabetakis

      June 17, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    • IMO theoretically they can do that, but this is uncommon, even if the original paper had to be retracted due to honest mistakes – and here we are dealing with deliberate fabrication. In case of resubmission of the “rescued” paper they have to address this issue in the cover letter. Nevertheless most authors don’t bother with this as a retracted study generates so much bitterness and embarrassment that hardly anyone would want to spend another minute replicating/correcting the experiment. Additionally, chances of acceptance of a salvaged paper in respected journals are presumably very low.

      BB

      June 17, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      • Theoretically, if the restituted paper can be recovered, then it should, and the remaining “honest” authors (assuming that no others were involved in the dirty plot) should hold their chins up and get over the pain and the embarassment, and republish their papers. Honesty is always the best policy, no doubt, in the long run. Retractions can cause battle scars, but they need not massacre honesty. So, there is ABSOLUTELY no reason why a re-submission to a high level journal (aka high IF score) shouldn’t be accepted. Any covering letter that clearly explains the circumstances and the background, provides formal guarantees and follows the ethical requirements of the journal and publisher cannot be turned away by any editor or any journal. If an editor is found to turn away such a paper, even with a background such as this one, this is surely grounds for discrimination, and the editor / journal / publisher should then be called out. Publically. There is no reason why scientists cannot get a second chance. Especially since 8 potential sets of important and or good data are involved. The problem really lies in the fact that it is difficult to judge the wheat from the chaff, i.e., what is “good and honest” data from what is not.
        In the worst case scenario, they can try and publish in a “predatory” OA journal. They would surely get more hits, get cied more and thus take benefit from open exposure than from the ivory tower journals with their lastic impact factors. That is why the world of “predatory” open access publishers is so dangerous. And so potentially positve, if the ideal outlet can be identified.
        All in all, this is another sad case that has bruised science’s confidence.

        JATdS

        June 17, 2014 at 8:27 pm


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