Yesterday we reported that Elsevier journals had pulled three papers by a computer scientist with an impressive publication record. The publisher has since informed us that it plans to pull six more, again citing duplication and manipulation of the peer-review process.
Shahaboddin Shamshirband at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s record will be down by a total of nine papers once the publisher issues the additional notices. We also found evidence that an additional paper was removed by a journal, but haven’t confirmed if that’s a retraction.
One of Shamshirband’s co-authors has objected to one of the retractions Elsevier has already issued for faked reviews, arguing the reviewers were PhD students without institutional email addresses. A spokesperson for Elsevier told us:
One paper published in 2012 was retracted — at the researcher’s request — for copying from a 2010 paper of his. In turn, both papers were duplicated in a paper that was published in 2016, and retracted a few months later. That 2016 paper borrowed from another paper published last year, which was quickly retracted after we contacted the journal.
These papers — by Dilip Kumar Das, listed at T. M. Bhagalpur University in India — were flagged in March by a PubPeer commenter.
In December, Plant Cell, Tissue and Organ Culture (PCTOC) retracted Das’s 2012 paper; here’s the retraction notice:
The former president of the Joslin Diabetes Center has withdrawn a second article within a month of his first, and issued extensive corrections to another paper in the same journal, all due to figure errors.
In November, we reported that Carl Ronald Kahn — also affiliated with Harvard Medical School — had pulled a highly cited 2005 paper from The Journal of Clinical Investigation because of image duplication issues, which Kahn told us were introduced during figure assembly. This December, Kahn retracted a 2003 paper published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC)—again due to duplication issues that the authors believe “were inadvertently introduced during figure assembly.”
Here’s the retraction notice for “Bi-directional regulation of brown fat adipogenesis by the insulin receptor,” cited 46 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters:
An oncology journal has decided to retract a 2012 paper on gastric cancer after discovering duplicated data in multiple figures.
According to the retraction notice, the journal’s editorial board received a tip from a reader regarding the potential figure issues. Oncology Reports launched an investigation, which confirmed the allegations. The authors failed to respond to the journal’s multiple requests for more information.
In November, a vice president at an institution in Taiwan retracted a hotly debated cancer paper from Nature Cell Biology, citing image problems including duplications. Now, the Journal of Biological Chemistry has done the same, again citing image duplications.
There are a few things to note about the latest retraction: One, the last author is again Kuo Min-liang — who holds an appointment at National Taiwan University (NTU), and is also a vice president at Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan. Kuo is currently facing allegations that he accepted bribes to add co-authors to his papers; NTU told us it is investigating the latest retraction in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, including Kuo.
The other notable feature of the retraction is the notice itself, which lists a remarkable number of duplicated images. Take a look:
A researcher in Brazil is taking responsibility for accidentally mixing up images in three papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The corresponding author on the three papers told us the mistake happened because the studies were conducted simultaneously, and relied on one computer.
There’s a side note to these retractions: The co-author list on two papers includes names that should be fairly well-known to our readers — Mario Saad, the researcher who unsuccessfully sued the American Diabetes Association to stop retractions of his papers, and Rui Curi, a researcher whose legal threats assisted in the shutdown of Science-Fraud.org. This makes Saad’s ninth retraction.
According to the retraction notices, Lício Velloso — who, like his co-authors, is based at the University of Campinas in São Paulo, Brazil — assembled all the figures. He told Retraction Watch that the authors initially wanted to correct the papers, adding: Read the rest of this entry »
Both papers — which are more than a decade old — were pulled in The Journal of Clinical Investigation on November 1 by their respective corresponding authors.
One paper’s last author told us it was difficult to identify how the duplications occurred since the study took place so long ago, but added that multiple experiments had corroborated the results.
In November 2015, MedChemComm issued an expression of concern (EOC) for the same paper. According to the EOC, the author of the paper, Yong Yang, flagged the paper to the journal, citing problems with authorship and portions of text overlap, which Yang attributed to an editing company.
The editor-in-chief of the journal told us Yang’s institution — China Medical University — carried out an investigation into the case at the journal’s request.
We’ve also found a 2015 retraction for Yang, after he published a paper without the okay of his previous institution in Texas.
A vociferous advocate for correcting the literature — who has been banned by two publishers for his persistent communications — has asked journals to retract one paper and correct three others for duplications.
After a reader flagged his 2004 paper on PubPeer last month, author Jaime Teixeira da Silva “immediately” contacted the journal to alert it that the paper had been duplicated, as he noted on a recent comment on our site:
Twitter is abuzz today over allegations that a recent paper in Scientific Reports contains a blatant example of duplication.
According to the allegations, a group of researchers in Malaysia have used the same four images to represent some 30 cells at different stages of cell death. One researcher has even suggested the allegedly doctored images appear in three different papers.
Is this a manipulated image? See for yourself: