A cancer researcher based at The Ohio State University has retracted five papers from one journal, citing concerns about figures.
The notices for all five papers state the Journal of Biological Chemistry raised questions about some figures, and the authors were not able to supply raw data in all instances. Four of the notices say the authors offered to submit data from repeat experiments and corrected figures, which the journal declined.
According to Kaoru Sakabe, data integrity manager at JBC, the authors “agreed to withdraw these articles after we declined their offers.”
The only author in common to all papers is Samson Jacob, a professor in the department of cancer biology and genetics at OSU. The institution recently addressed allegations that have dogged another cancer researcher, Carlo Croce: Last week, an external probe by a firm hired by OSU concluded that the university came to “defensible and reasonable” decisions in its investigation into those allegations.
An OSU spokesperson would not comment on whether the university was investigating allegations against Jacob, and said the university learned about four retractions last week:
In accordance with federal regulation and university policy, we are required to maintain confidentiality regarding ongoing research misconduct proceedings, and therefore cannot confirm or deny the existence of any ongoing investigations of faculty.
Pseudonymous whistleblower Clare Francis forwarded some of the PubPeer discussions about Jacob’s papers to OSU in March 2017.
We’ve contacted Jacob, and will update the post if he responds.
The five withdrawn papers were published between 2006 and 2011, and have collectively been cited 171 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.
The journal withdrew the articles at the request of the corresponding author, Samson T. Jacob, professor emeritus at the Ohio State University, after an investigation conducted by the journal.
The withdrawal notices explain why the action was taken. In most cases, the figures did not meet the journal’s publication standards. Read the full notices here. Additional corrections, withdrawals, and/or retractions related to this investigation may be forthcoming.
The JBC editors are committed to correcting the literature when it is warranted. They also are committed to educating existing and prospective JBC authors to prevent misconduct and mistakes.
We felt that with the number of papers withdrawn, readers deserved an explanation of the events that occurred.
All of the notices say the journal raised questions about figures, which could not always be supported with original data. As an example of one of the explanations, here’s the notice for “Identification of T-cadherin as a novel target of DNA methyltransferase 3B and its role in the suppression of nerve growth factor-mediated neurite outgrowth in PC12 cells:”
This article has been withdrawn by the authors. In June 2017, the Journal raised questions concerning Figs. 2B, 3B, and 5A. The original data and originally submitted figures were not available for evaluation. Regarding Fig. 2B, the authors were able to locate a repeated experiment performed at the time of the original work, which they state confirm the results. Regarding Figs. 3B and 5A, the authors are not convinced that any duplication occurred, and they were able to provide to the Journal data from multiple partial repeat experiments performed at the time of the original work, which they state confirm the results. The authors offered to publish substitute figures based on the repeated experiments and, alternatively, offered to repeat the experiments. However, the Journal declined both of these offers, a decision with which the authors disagree. The authors stand by the reproducibility of the experimental data and the conclusions of the paper. The paper, with confirmatory data supporting the results, can be obtained by contacting the authors.
All of the notices say the authors stand by the reproducibility and conclusions of their papers.
Some of Jacob’s papers have been questioned on PubPeer. An OSU spokesperson told us they are not aware of any additional retractions involving Jacob’s group.
A spokesperson for PNAS told Retraction Watch the journal has asked Jacob and his co-authors to address concerns raised on PubPeer about a 2004 paper.
We asked Sakabe about the status of a 2008 JBC paper on which Jacob is listed as a corresponding author, which has been cited 257 times. She told us:
While I cannot comment on that paper, I will point out that the notice we published indicates that the investigation is ongoing and that other corrections, withdrawals and/or retractions remain a possibility.
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