Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Retractions follow misconduct by biologist, one more on the way

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Two journals have retracted papers by a biologist at the University of Tokyo who admitted to scientific misconduct, including data duplication and misrepresentation. Another journal is planning to retract one of the researcher’s papers later this month.

Hyun Kim studies a protein known as the “ski protein.” However, one analysis of the role of ski protein in development was retracted late last month by the Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences. The journal decided to investigate after Kim admitted to misconduct in two other papers published in a different journal.

Here’s the note for the paper:

AJAS wishes to retract the article Induction of Ski Protein Expression upon Luteinization in Rat Granulosa Cells published in the AJAS Vol 25, issue 5, page 635-641(2012), which is based on inadequate validation of primary data sources and data misrepresentation. The review was conducted by ethical committee of the AJAS following an admission of scientific misconduct by the first author (Hyun Kim, PhD) in relation to the data included in other studies (1 and 2). This review resulted in our decision to retract the aforementioned article.

The retracted study hasn’t been cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The other studies mentioned in the note were both published in the Journal of Reproduction and Development; Hyun Kim is the first author on both:

Yes, the title of that second paper is similar to that of the retracted paper. The papers have other similarities, too. Take the final line of the abstracts, for example.

From the retracted paper:

Taken together, these results demonstrated that Ski protein expression is induced in granulosa cells upon luteinization, and suggests that its expression is regulated post-transcriptionally.

From the Journal of Reproduction and Development paper:

The combined results demonstrated that Ski protein expression is induced in granulosa cells upon luteinization, and suggested that its expression is regulated posttranscriptionally.

We’ve also discovered two other retractions for Kim following an admission of misconduct, although we’re not sure when the retractions were issued. Here’s the retraction note for the two articles, published in Reproductive and Developmental Biology (again, one has a very similar title to the retracted AJAS article):

RDB wishes to retract the articles “Relationship between Sloan-Kettering Virus Expression and Granulosa Cells of Atretic Follicles in the Rat Ovary” published in the RDB Vol 35, issue 3, page 341-348 (2011), and “Involvement of Ski Protein Expression in Luteinization in Rat Granulosa Cells” published in the RDB Vol 35, issue 3, page 355-361(2011), which are based on duplication of the published data.

The ethical committee of the KSAR (Korean Society of Animal Reproduction) conducted the review following an admission of scientific misconduct by the first/corresponding author (Hyun Kim, PhD), resulting in the decision to retract these articles.

Neither of those articles has been cited.

We were unable to find links to those articles that we could confirm were from Reproductive and Developmental Biology. But we did find another article with the same a simelar title — “Relationship between Sloan-Kettering Virus Expression and Granulosa Cells of Atretic Follicles in the Rat Ovary mammalian follicular development” —  published in another journal, Zygote, in 2015. (It hasn’t yet been cited.) The Senior Commissioning Editor of Zygote told us:

I can confirm that we have indeed prepared a retraction notice regarding this paper which we are aiming to have published by 20th January 2016.

She told us that

after an investigation carried out in compliance with the guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) we found that the authors duplicated substantial parts of [two articles].

The articles she mentioned are the very same Journal of Reproduction and Development articles flagged in the AJAS retraction note.

We’ve reached out the to the Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Science and Kim — who we couldn’t find a webpage for — for more information, and to the Journal of Reproduction and Development to ask about the status of those two papers. We’ve also reached out to Reproductive and Developmental Biology for more information on the two retractions from that journal. We’ll update this post with anything else we learn.

Update: January 8, 2015 2016, 11:20 am EST

The editor in chief of Journal of Reproduction and DevelopmentAtsuo Ogura, told us:

We, the editorial board of Journal of Reproduction and Development, carefully checked the present matter, and have to inform you that we have no plans to retract the following articles published in JRD. They are definitely original works.

A co-author of one of the JRD papers told us that Kim is no longer at the University of Tokyo, and has moved on to a new institute.

Update: January 18,  2016, 10:30 am EST
The Zygote paper, “Relationship between Sloan-Kettering virus expression and mammalian follicular development,” has been retracted. Here’s the retraction note:

Zygote wishes to inform its readers that its Editor-in-Chief has decided to retract the above article after an investigation carried out in compliance with the Committee on Publication Ethics guidelines found that the authors duplicated substantial parts of the following two articles:

  • 1. Kim H, Yamanouchi K, Nishihara M. (2006) Expression of ski in the granulosa cells of atretic follicles in the rat ovary. J. Reprod. Dev. 52, 715–721
  • 2. Kim H, Yamanouchi K, Matsuwaki T, Nishihara M. (2012) Induction of Ski protein expression upon luteinization in rat granulosa cells without a change in its mRNA expression. J. Reprod. Dev. 58, 254–259

Hat tip: Rolf Degen 

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Comments
  • David Sabaj Stahl January 7, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    While it is unfortunate Dr. Kim appears to have committed these violations of ethics, it is also refreshing that he appeared to be forthcoming and cooperative with subsequent investigations. I imagine his confessions were gut-wrenching, but there are likely many others who would have never admitted wrongdoing. So while I am disappointed by Dr. Kim’s behavior, I also acknowledge his ability to take responsibility for those failings.

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