Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Duplicated data, “careless errors” expire lung cancer paper

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A paper about the molecular details of lung cancer is being retracted for repeating datasets and “careless errors” in a pair of figures.

According to the note, the editor of Carcinogenesis wouldn’t have known about the problems if he hadn’t been tipped off that the paper by first author, XiaoJuan Sun — a researcher at Shenzhen Second People’s Hospital in China — shared “significant similarities” with another one of Sun’s papers that was retracted years ago. After the journal investigated the paper, it discovered that the authors had reported the same data as in the retracted paper “without significant additions or amendments,” along with some errors and inconsistencies.

Here’s the detailed note for “The EDA-containing cellular fibronectin induces epithelial mesenchymal transition in lung cancer cells through integrin α9β1-mediated activation of PI3-K /Akt and Erk1/2:”

It was brought to the Editor-in-Chief’s attention that there were significant similarities between this paper and a previously published and subsequently retracted article in the American Journal of Physiology–Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology: The fibronectin EDA splicing variant induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition in lung cancer cells through integrin α9β1-mediated activation of PI3-K and Erk

Upon further investigation Carcinogenesis’ editorial team had concerns with the accuracy of the paper’s content as below, which the author, Dr Xiaojuan Sun, has been unable to explain to the satisfaction of the Editor-in-Chief: The data sets reported in the previously retracted publication were included in the Carcinogenesis paper without significant additions or amendments. There are errors in figures 4B and 6A and there are inconsistencies in the descriptions of the immunofluorescence analysis. The lead author, Dr Xiaojuan Sun, accepts responsibility for the careless errors in the paper. All authors have agreed that retraction from the literature is the appropriate solution to correct the scientific record, and apologize to the Editorial Board and readership of Carcinogenesis.

The original paper has not been cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

In 2011, we covered the retraction of the American Journal of Physiology–Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology article that raised the editor’s suspicions. Sun was one of the two authors on that paper who assumed responsibility for “digitally manipulated” figures in that paper. This 2010 paper also included authors — not including Sun — who were investigated by Emory University and the University of Louisville for a few other retractions. None of those authors are on the newly retracted Carcinogensis paper.

Sun was also a co-author on a correction and a retraction the team posted in 2012, for which another author took responsibility.

We’ve emailed the EIC of Carcinogensis, Curtis Harris at the National Cancer InstituteWe were unable to find contact info for Sun.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen

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