Authors try to duplicate bad data, fail miserably

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We’ve seen plagiarizers plagiarizing plagiarizers, but here’s what seems to be a first: A journal has retracted an article that duplicated text…from a paper that had been retracted for containing dubious data.

The Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science published the recycled paper, titled “Development and in vitro-in vivo characterization of chronomodulated multi-particulate drug delivery system of terbutaline sulphate for treatment of nocturnal asthma by box–Behnken statistical design.” The authors were from several institutions in India.

As the retraction notice explains:

It has been reported that some data used in this article were taken from a previous article. The editorial committee of this journal found that the data used in one table and figure were originally published in an earlier article authored by the same authors (Bajwa et al., 2017) and included in this article without appropriate reference and permission.

Thus, we retract this article from the literature according to the guidelines of Committee on Publication Ethics (Wager et al., 2009).

Fair enough. But what the statement doesn’t indicate is that the purloined material had been retracted already for being rotten — kind of like an art thief who gets busted selling copies of a forgery.

The 2017 paper, “Development and in vitro-in vivo characterization of chronomodulated pulsatile delivery formulation of terbutaline sulphate by box-Behnken statistical design,” appeared in AAPS PharmSci Tech.

According to the retraction notice:

This article has been retracted by the journal because the editors have clear evidence that the scientific findings in this article are unreliable. The article describes the formulation and in vitro/in vivo testing of an Optimized Pulsatile Delivery Tablet (OP1) as follows: 10 mm diameter press-coated Pulsatile Delivery Tablet (PDT) that contains a 6 mm diameter Fast-Release Core Tablet (FRCT), prepared, characterized and tested in the rabbit pharmacokinetic study. The authors have confirmed to the editors that they actually prepared and tested a “special batch” of FRCT core tablets having a diameter of 2.5 mm contained in 5 mm press-coated PDT tablets having a diameter of 5 mm, but the use of this smaller FRCT/PDT is not described anywhere in the manuscript. Therefore, the editors believe that since the article does not describe the dosage form that was actually studied, the findings in the article are unreliable. All authors agreed to this retraction. The online version of this article contains the full text of the retracted article as electronic supplementary material.

We asked JAPS why they neglected to point out the retraction of the duplicated article. Associate editor Paras Sharma told us:

The retraction in our journal is based on the plagiarism and use of published data without appropriate permission. The DOI link given in first reference moves to author’s retracted article in other journal.

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3 thoughts on “Authors try to duplicate bad data, fail miserably”

  1. This piece indicates that the authors of the JAPS article copied information from an AAPS article that had already been retracted. The timeline in the articles and retraction notices seems to indicate otherwise — that the authors of both papers overlap and that they submitted both manuscripts one month apart to different journals. The retractions were issued after both articles had been accepted and published. This is the information I collected. Date formats are from the online documents of the journal sites.

    Article in AAPS PharmSciTech

    Article
    Received 5 April 2017; accepted 14 June 2017; published online 30 June 2017

    Retraction Notice
    First Online 29 January 2018; published August 2018

    Authors: Prabhjot Singh Bajwa, Anurag Bhargava, Jaya Sharma, Shailesh Sharma, Abhimanyu Rai Sharma, and Binu Sharma

    Article in JAPS

    Article
    Received 08/05/2017; accepted: 21/07/2017; available online: 30/11/2017

    Retraction Notice
    Undated

    Authors: Prabhjot Singh Bajwa, Jaya Sharma, Shailesh Sharma, Anurag Bhargava

    1. Good point. The second sentence of the JAPS retraction notice is consistent with plagiarism of the earlier-submitted manuscript or the published paper. Without a date on that notice, the reader doesn’t know if the authors already knew their data were bad. A lot of ambiguity in notices that should and could be clear.

  2. Well, actually it is much worse than it looks.

    In the AAPS article the authors say: ” One hundred fifty milligrams of
    powder blend was accurately weighed and filled into a 10.00-
    mm tablet machine die …………..Both formulations were orally
    administered with small amount of water to each animal using
    a feeding tube.”
    The tablets are 10mm in diameter (so they say) and they put it through a feeding tube (so they claim) the rabbits were 1500-1700Gm (not particularly big rabbits). The little (actually BIG problem) is that the largest tube you can use in a rabbit has a lumen of 7 mm…
    The results are (to the trained eye) unbelievable in the worst sense of the word.
    I do, however, commends the editor of JAPS. He was made aware of the problem and acted on it. The peer-review system failed in both cases but the peer-review system finally felled those “scientists”

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