Why did all of these retractions take more than three years?

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In December 2015, a U.S. government watchdog said a researcher named Girija Dasmahapatra had faked data in 11 papers. Two of those papers were retracted by October 2016.

And then, until this year, nothing happened.

Since February, four journals have retracted seven of Dasmahapatra’s papers, and two journals have corrected two others. That completes the list of 11 that the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) said included false data.

But since the ORI report, the nine papers retracted or corrected this year have been cited more than 80 times. That’s more than 80 papers that relied, at least in some small part, on faked studies in Blood, Cancer Biology & Therapy, Leukemia Research, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Molecular Pharmacology, and the British Journal of Haematology.

As we noted in 2016, all 11 papers mentioned in the ORI report list Steven Grant as last author, while Paul Dent is a co-author of nine of these studies. Both have retractions or corrections that do not involve Dasmahapatra.

We’ve written about delays like this before, and one publisher issued an apology last year. We understand that journals often want to do their own analysis, and can fear legal threats if they act rashly.

But it’s never been clear why it should take years for journals to act after findings from a body like the ORI, nor why they don’t use expressions of concern in the meantime.

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2 thoughts on “Why did all of these retractions take more than three years?”

  1. “But since the ORI report, the nine papers retracted or corrected this year have been cited more than 80 times.”

    To address this problem, editors must use the “Expression of Concern” tool on a more regular basis. It is not in any way demeaning to the editors if they are concerned with a paper. And once the EoC is in place, they can take the time they need to investigate thoroughly.

  2. I am not surprised by the fact that many scientific journals apparently are not interested in following up retraction of fraudulent work. When profit is more important than the science, you get this situation.

    In the case of the journals Cancer Biology & Therapy and Leukemia Research, the friends from VCU act as editors or editorial board members. Paul Dent is deputy editor-in-chief of Cancer Biology & Therapy and Steven Grant and Paul B. Fisher are associated editor and member of the editorial board, respectively. Steven Grant is also member of the editorial board of Leukemia Research.

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