Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Catching up: Publisher to pull four papers by retraction record holder flagged years ago

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the-laryngoscopeJournals published by Wiley are retracting four papers by Yoshitaka Fujii, the anesthesiology researcher with the most retracted scientific papers.

Retraction Watch readers will be familiar with Fujii’s case: He currently holds the number one spot on our leaderboard with more than 180 retractions, some of which are pending. (That’s nearly twice the number of retractions by the researcher in the #2 spot, Joachim Boldt.) 

Earlier this year, The Breast Journal and The Laryngoscope — both of which are published by Wiley-Blackwell — issued expressions of concern (EOCs) for a total of four papers by Fujii. All four papers were included in a 2012 analysis of 168 of Fujii’s studies by J. B. Carlisle, a consultant anesthetist in the UK, who concluded that the chance of much of Fujii’s data appearing the way it does naturally is

…the chance of selecting one particular atom from all the human bodies on earth.

Now, both journals are retracting the papers. 

A Wiley spokesperson told us:

Our initial research prompted us to publish an expression of concern (EoC) for papers in The Laryngoscope. After further investigation, we decided to proceed with retractions, these will [be] publish[ed] soon. These decisions were agreed upon following an investigation carried out by the University of Tsukuba into a substantial number of papers by Dr Fujii. This and subsequent investigations carried out by Dr Fujii’s institutions under the auspices of the Japanese Society of Anesthesiologists yielded overwhelming statistical evidence of fabrication.

Here’s the EOC The Laryngoscope issued for the three papers now slated for retraction:

The Laryngoscope issues a formal Expression of Concern in relation to the above articles by Dr Yoshitaka Fujii. This decision was determined after observing reports from other journals that more than 180 retractions of a total of about 210 papers by Dr Fujii included unauthentic details or other issues that are not documentable. Because of the reports from other journals, the Editorial staff of The Laryngoscope are concerned that these articles should not have been accepted in their published form, as they may not meet the standards of editorial and scientific soundness for the Journal.

Here’s more on the three papers due to be pulled:

The Breast Journal will also be retracting the paper it issued an EOC for in April, the spokesperson told us. Here’s the EOC notice it was flagged with in April:

The Breast Journal issues a formal Expression of Concern in relation to the above article by Dr Yoshitaka Fujii. This decision was determined after observing reports from other journals that more than 180 retractions of a total of about 210 papers by Dr Fujii included unauthentic details or other issues that are not documentable. Because of the reports from other journals, the Editorial staff of The Breast Journal are concerned that these articles should not have been accepted in their published form, as they may not meet the standards of editorial and scientific soundness for the Journal.

This 2007 paper, “Reduction of Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting and Analgesic Requirement with Dexamethasone in Women Undergoing General Anesthesia for Mastectomy,” has been cited 11 times.

The spokesperson told us that this paper will also be retracted

due to the overwhelming evidence of fabrication…

We asked the Wiley spokesperson to confirm why it took its journals more than four years to issue notices for papers flagged by Carlisle’s study (also published in a Wiley journal), and were told: 

…the journal needed to undertake an investigation before publishing the Expression of Concern and now the Retractions.

As we noted previously, keeping track of Fujii’s retractions isn’t an easy task; our current number — 183 — is from a report by Tsukuba University in Japan, where Fujii worked for more than a decade ago.

For more of the backstory to Fujii’s retractions, check out this piece our cofounders published last year in Nautilus magazine.

Update: 1/5/17 12:08 p.m. eastern: The Breast Journal paper has now been retracted. Here is the notice:

The Breast Journal issues a formal retraction in relation to the above article by Dr Yoshitaka Fujii. This decision was agreed upon following an investigation carried out by the University of Tsukuba in December 2012 into a substantial number of papers by Dr Fujii. This and subsequent investigations carried out by Dr Fujii’s institutions under the auspices of the Japanese Society of Anesthesiologists yielded overwhelming statistical evidence of fabrication, as a result of which the above paper is being retracted.

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