Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Author says he lied about approval for animal research

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A researcher in South Korea has retracted a 2015 paper after telling the journal he falsified the institutional approval required to conduct the animal experiments.

In the article, the author explicitly says that the Animal Experiment Review Board of a university based in Seoul, South Korea approved the experiments, but according to the journal, “the author did not receive an approval by the board and he used a false approval number.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “The role of compensatory movements patterns in spontaneous recovery after stroke,” published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science (JPTS) in September 2015 and retracted in December:

This article has been retracted at the request of the author. This original article did not receive an approval by the Animal Experiment Review Board of the Laboratory Animal Research Center of Konkuk University. The approval number in the article is incorrect. In accordance with policies and procedures governing academic publication we concluded that the above-mentioned article published in J. Phys. Ther. Sci. be retracted. We apologize to readers of the journal that this was not detected during the submission and reviewing process.

The 2015 paper — which has been cited twice, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters — explores a strategy to restore motor function in rats after stroke. In it, the author explicitly states that he received approval for the experiments:

All procedures were approved by the Animal Experiment Review Board of the Laboratory Animal Research Center of Konkuk University (Approval no. KU14151).

We contacted the author Kyoung-Hee Lee, from the Department of Occupational Therapy at Baekseok University in Korea, but have not heard back. It appears that Lee used to work at Konkuk University, where he claimed he received approval for the animal experiments.

A contact in the JPTS editorial office told us:

This manuscript was retracted due to the request from this author. The information on the notice might sound contradicting as it says it was retracted since the author did not receive an approval, and the approval number in the article is incorrect. The reason of retraction is that the author did not receive an approval by the board and he used a false approval number.

When we asked how this information came to light, the journal official explained that the author brought the issue to the journal’s attention:

The author requested us to retract the manuscript since he did not receive approval and used a false approval number.

We didn’t conduct any investigation. Based on the author’s request we decided to retract this manuscript.

Could the author have listed the incorrect approval number by mistake? The journal contact responded:

The author said he used the same approval number for different researches. It is unlikely that the use of false number was by accident.

I don’t know how the approval by Konkuk University is done. I don’t know why this author used false approval number instead of going through proper procedure.

The journal was on the now-defunct list of possible predatory journals compiled by librarian Jeffrey Beall. According to the JPTS website, the journal charges the following fees (approximately 114 yen to $1 USD):

1) If the corresponding author is not a member of the Society of Physical Therapy Science, the submission charge is 10,000 yen for each manuscript. A submission charge will not be levied for a member of the Society of Physical Therapy Science.

2) The page charge is 20,000 yen per printed page. The fees are to be paid when requested by the Society of Physical Therapy Science.

A 2013 analysis in Nature found JPTS to be the least cost-effective open-access journal:

Of the 301 fee-based open-access journals considered, the most cost-effective was the Publication of the Astronomical Society of Japan (see Best-value journals); the least cost-effective was the Journal of Physical Therapy Science (see Least-value journals).

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Comments
  • aceil March 6, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Very interesting. How common is this phenomenon?

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