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:
If authors duplicate portions of their own work in multiple papers — such as descriptions of methods, a boilerplate background to their field, etc. — should that be considered misconduct?
Of course, to many journals, duplication — also known as “self-plagiarism” is a retractable offense. A recent letter to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity (ORI) from the Council on Governmental Relations asked the agency to consider it misconduct, and “include self-plagiarism in the definition of plagiarism.” More specifically, the letter — reported by the Report on Research Compliance — says to new ORI director Kathy Partin:
A pair of researchers affiliated with the University of Galati in Romania were suspended after duplicating work in their papers on materials used to build ships, earning them four retractions last year, and one the year before.
According to Romanian newspaper Impact Est, in December an ethics committee found that co-authors Ionel Chirica and Elena-Felicia Beznea committed “a number of breaches of ethics,” including self-plagiarism. Both received two-year suspensions from holding certain research positions.
These aren’t the only problems Chirica has faced: In 2013, he resigned from his position as the director of the Doctoral School of Engineering, according to Impact Est, for reasons that are unclear. In 2012, he also lost two additional papers on which he is the sole author.
Last fall, Computational Materials Science retracted four papers by Chirica and Beznea, publishing almost identical notices. We’ll start with the one for “Response of ship hull laminated plates to close proximity blast loads:”
Image splicing, duplications, inversions kill paper for well-known longevity researcher and alum of lab
A well-known scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies longevity has retracted a paper for “numerous examples of unindicated splicing of gel lanes,” as well as other problems.
Guarente told us in March — when we reported that he’d published a mega-correction on another paper — that he had planned to address issues with the paper, “SIRT1 Protects against α-Synuclein Aggregation by Activating Molecular Chaperones,” published in the The Journal of Neuroscience. Now, a retraction note has appeared “at the request of the authors.” It explains: