Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Journal retracts two papers by authors who lifted others’ data

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A journal has retracted two 2014 papers after the editors discovered the authors used data from other research groups without permission.

The papers, both published in the same issue of Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics and retracted in May, suffered from similar issues—the authors published data that was not theirs. The authors are all based at different institutions in China; as far as we can tell, the papers do not have any authors in common.

When we asked the publisher whether a third party, such as a paper mill, may have been involved, a spokesperson for Springer told us:

The journal and editor-in-chief did not find any evidence of a paper mill.

According to the first notice, the authors requested the retraction after confirming that “they had included material for which they had not obtained the required rights and permissions.” The second notice says the journal’s editor-in-chief and publisher discovered that the authors had published data from another research group, also “without obtaining the required rights and permissions.”   

Here’s the first retraction notice:

Upon the request of the authors, the Editor-in-Chief retracts this paper and its erratum, as the authors have confirmed that they had included material for which they had not obtained the required rights and permissions. Guibin Wang, Hongmei Liu, Zhenchun Zhang, Fengfang Zhang, Shufa Li, Yang Chen, Huanli Zhao (2014). Oolong tea drinking could help prevent bone loss in postmenopausal Han Chinese women. Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics 70(2): 1289–1293. Doi: 10.1007/s12013-014-0053-y. Wang, G., Liu, H., Zhao, H. et al. (2014). Erratum to: Oolong tea drinking could help prevent bone loss in postmenopausal Han Chinese women. Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics 70: 1295. Doi:10.1007/s12013-014-0171-6.

Oolong Tea Drinking Could Help Prevent Bone Loss in Postmenopausal Han Chinese Women” was published online July 2014 and has been cited three times, including once by the erratum, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science. The erratum, issued in 2014, corrected the spelling of an author’s name.

And here’s the second retraction notice, which also notes one author had nothing to do with the research:

This article is being retracted following an investigation by the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher according to COPE guidelines. The investigation identified a discrepancy between the authorship of and the data reported in the article. The investigation concluded that the authors had used and published the manuscript from another research group without obtaining the required rights and permissions. The sixth author on the paper, Dr. Rongju Sun, had no involvement in the research and had no knowledge about the submission and consequent publication of the article.

The Interaction Effects of Temperature and Humidity on Emergency Room Visits for Respiratory Diseases in Beijing, China” has been cited three times since it was published online in June 2014.

The Springer spokesperson told us that the journal was informed of the issues in both papers by “external stakeholders” and that:

The investigation was carried out by the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher according to COPE guidelines.

We asked why a basic science journal was publishing clinical studies; the spokesperson told us the journal has shifted focus since the 2014 papers were published:

The aims and scope of the journal was revised at the end of 2015 and the journal has become more specifically focused on basic science.

In 2015, the journal was placed temporarily on hold, after the publisher found a “pattern of inappropriate and compromised peer review.”

We reached out to the corresponding authors on both papers—Huanli Zhao from the Radiology Department at Linyi People’s Hospital in Shandong, China (1) and Xiaodong Zhao, from The First Affiliated Hospital of General Hospital of PLA in Beijing (2)—and will update the post if we hear back.

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