Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

University in Japan finds cancer researcher guilty of misconduct

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A university in Japan has found a former professor guilty of falsifying and altering images in four published papers, including a 2014 paper about stem cells.

On Dec. 15, Tottori University announced the results of its misconduct investigation, in which the cancer researcher, Norimasa Miura, confessed to altering images in the four papers.

According to the report, which we translated, Miura resigned as associate professor at Tottori University a month before the investigation concluded in October of this year. Miura had already stopped receiving grant and research funding in May, one month into the six-month investigation.

The issue first came to the university’s attention in February 2017, after an unnamed professor identified “a suspicious issue” with images in a 2016 paper in BMC Cancer. The professor, who also works at Tottori University, examined other papers on which Miura was first or corresponding author and found potential image falsification in three morethe 2014 paper in Scientific Reports, a 2013 paper in Nucleic Acid Therapeutics and a 2009 paper in BMC Molecular Biology. The papers have been collectively cited 33 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

In mid-November, Miura appealed the investigation findings but, according to the report, the university denied the appeal because Miura offered “no new objective and scientific evidence” in his defense.

The university recommended that Miura withdraw the four papers in question and notify authors who cited them.

We reached out to Miura for comment, but he did not reply.

The BMC Cancer paper received a correction in October of this year to fix errors in two images, but does not mention falsification or the university investigation. We contacted the journal to ask whether the investigation prompted the correction, but have not heard back.

We also asked the other three journals whether the university or Miura had contacted them about the papers and, if so, whether they planned to issue corrections or retractions. Graham Parker, the editor of Nucleic Acid Therapeutics, told us he had not yet been contacted about the paper, but he now plans to investigate.

Hat tip: Lemon-Stoism, Author of world fluctuation watch

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Written by Victoria Stern

January 2nd, 2018 at 8:00 am

Comments
  • Prof. Chukwuemeka Chucks Agbakwuru January 6, 2018 at 6:32 am

    I am inclined to think that what might be considered as falsification and alteration of images on a research paper could mean new discoveries or innovations evolving from research studies. Otherwise I would like to ask if researchers are expected to copy existing research formats in conformity with the regulations hence falsification indictments.

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