Researcher who once tried to sue critics has another dozen papers retracted

Fazlul Sarkar

A cancer researcher who went to court — unsuccessfully — claiming that commenters on PubPeer had cost him a new job has just lost another 12 papers.

The twelve now-retracted papers by Fazlul Sarkar and colleagues — as well as another by Sarkar that is now subject to an editor’s note — all appeared in Cancer Research, which made for a long table of contents in its September 15 issue.

The papers were cited anywhere from 39 to 276 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, with the top citation earner named a “highly cited paper,” meaning it was cited more than 99% of all other papers in its field published the same year.

By our count, Sarkar is now up to 33 retractions, at least a dozen corrections and one editor’s note. An investigation at Wayne State found that he had engaged in widespread misconduct, and recommended that 42 of his papers be retracted.

According to the retraction notices, the journal sent copies of all 12 to Sarkar’s last known email address, but he did not respond. In most cases, at least one of the other authors agreed with the retractions.

Earlier this month, the American Association for Cancer Research, which publishes Cancer Research, retracted 10 papers from various journals and apologized for how slowly they had handled such cases. Publisher Christine Rullo also wrote that “It will take several months to publish various types of corrections related to a number of older cases on which we are working.”

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6 thoughts on “Researcher who once tried to sue critics has another dozen papers retracted”

  1. A search reveals that he was a remarkably well funded cancer researcher. Possibly the saddest aspect of this, and similar, stories is the lost opportunities. That is, for each grant 1) procured by misconduct and 2) that results in no valid advancements, there were, likely, legitimate projects that went unfunded. Think of the impact on current and future patients.

    Another impact of grant fraud is the fact that there are, quite possibly, honest scientists whose proposals were passed over in favor of the “super-productive” types whose produce is/was fake. Some of those scientists could have failed to achieve tenure as a result, impacting them and their families profoundly.

    Those found to have engaged in misconduct should face the same criminal and civil penalties as those engaging in other types of fraud.

    1. That journal you link to has several hallmarks of a predatory open access journal. The address for the publisher is a residence, the phone number a non-fixed VoIP (meaning it can be associated with just about any desired address), and there’s no mention of any publication fee (but it is Open Access, so there will very likely be one).

  2. A quick check of the NIH RePORTER site shows that Dr. Fazlul H. Sarkar was awarded around $13 million from the NCI from 1993 – 2015.

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