Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

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Journal retracts nine papers in one day by author under investigation at the Weizmann Institute

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On April 27, the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) retracted nine papers by a researcher based in Israel, including some dating back to 2000.

The reason: Image manipulation.

Michal Neeman, vice president of The Weizmann Institute of Science, told us that the researcher, Rony Seger, is under investigation following an allegation of misconduct affecting papers in multiple journals.

So far, we’ve found 11 retractions for papers by Seger, a molecular biologist. In the notices, the authors state they have “full confidence” in the findings, and in many instances have replicated the work.

According to Neeman:

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How a researcher’s request to correct one paper turned into 19 retractions

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jcheng

Jin Cheng

Last year, a cancer researcher wrote to the Journal of Biological Chemistry, asking to correct one of his papers. The journal responded by requesting the raw data used to prepare his figures. Then, in a follow-up request, it asked for raw data behind the figures in 20 additional published articles.

And when all was said and done six months later, Jin Cheng ended up with far more than just a single correction: Last month, the journal issued withdrawals for 19 of his papers — including the paper he originally asked to correct — along with one correction.

We’ve pieced together some clues about what happened after reviewing correspondence between representatives of JBC and Moffitt Cancer Center, where Cheng conducted his research. A spokesperson for Moffitt confirmed that the retractions did not initiate from an institutional investigation — but that the institution is now conducting one.

That’s not the way retractions typically happen: Often, journals don’t have the resources to conduct investigations themselves, so institutions mostly take the lead in double-checking papers and, if necessary, contacting the journal to initiate a retraction. Here, it seems the opposite took place.

The Moffitt spokesperson also told us that Read the rest of this entry »

Cancer researcher retracts 19 studies at once

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jcheng

Jin Cheng

A former cancer biologist at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida has retracted 19 papers from a single journal.

Jin Cheng, who studies how ovarian cancer develops, withdrew 19 papers from the Journal of Biological Chemistry originally published over the last 15 years, and corrected another. All of the retractions are for image manipulation.

For example, here’s the notice for “Activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathway by androgen through interaction of p85α, androgen receptor, and Src,” a paper originally published in 2003: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

October 21st, 2016 at 11:38 am

The Retraction Watch Leaderboard

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Who has the most retractions? Here’s our unofficial list (see notes on methodology), which we’ll update as more information comes to light:

  1. Yoshitaka Fujii (total retractions: 183) See also: Final report of investigating committee, our reporting, additional coverage
  2. Joachim Boldt (96) See also: Editors-in-chief statement, our coverage
  3. Diederik Stapel (58) See also: our coverage
  4. Adrian Maxim (48) See also: our coverage
  5. Chen-Yuan (Peter) Chen (43) See also: SAGE, our coverage
  6. Hua Zhong (41) See also: journal notice
  7. Shigeaki Kato (39) See also: our coverage
  8. James Hunton (36) See also: our coverage
  9. Hyung-In Moon (35) See also: our coverage
  10. Naoki Mori (32) See also: our coverage
  11. Jan Hendrik Schön (31) See also: our coverage
  12. Tao Liu (29) See also: our coverage
  13. Cheng-Wu Chen (28) See also: our coverage
  14. Yoshihiro Sato (25) See also: our coverage
  15. Scott Reuben (24) See also: our coverage
  16. Jun Iwamoto (23) See also: our coverage
  17. Gilson Khang (22) See also: our coverage
  18. Noel Chia (21) See also: our coverage
  19. Friedhelm Herrmann (21) See also: our coverage
  20. Dipak Das (20) See also: our coverage
  21. Khalid Zaman (20) See also: our coverage
  22. Jin Cheng (19) See also: our coverage
  23. Stanley Rapoport (19) See also: our coverage
  24. Fazlul Sarkar (19) See also: our coverage
  25. Bharat Aggarwal (18) See also: our coverage
  26. John Darsee (17) See also: our coverage
  27. Wataru Matsuyama (17) See also: our coverage
  28. Erin Potts-Kant (17) See also: our coverage
  29. Robert Slutsky (17) See also: our coverage
  30. Ulrich Lichtenthaler (16) See also: our coverage

We note that all but one of the top 30 are men, which agrees with the general findings of a 2013 paper suggesting that men are more likely to commit fraud.

Notes:

Many accounts of the John Darsee story cite 80-plus retractions, which would place him third on the list, but Web of Science only lists 17, three of which are categorized as corrections. That’s not the only discrepancy. For example, Fujii has 138 retractions listed in Web of Science, compared to 183 as recommended by a university committee, while Reuben has 25, compared to the 22 named in this paper. We know that not everything ends up in Web of Science — Chen, for example, isn’t there at all — so we’ve used our judgment based on covering these cases to arrive at the highest numbers we could verify.

Shigeaki Kato is likely to end up with 43 retractions, based on the results of a university investigation.

All of this is a good reminder why the database we’re building with the generous support of the MacArthur Foundation and Arnold Foundation will be useful.

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Written by Ivan Oransky

June 16th, 2015 at 11:09 am

Posted in

Authors withdraw immunology study, no reasons given

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Journal of Biological Chemistry1Researchers have withdrawn a 2010 article in the Journal of Biological Chemistry about an immune regulator.

The paper was pulled without any explanation (in standard JBC style). Here’s the complete notice:

This article has been withdrawn by the authors.

The study’s authors were based out of Shandong University Medical School, Jinan General Hospital of Jinan Command and Duke University Medical Center.

Two of the authors have had previous papers retracted.

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Chinese medical case study erased after guardian consent withdrawn

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JMCRThe editor of the Journal of Medical Case Reports, a BioMed Central title, has retracted and removed a case study of a novel surgical treatment after the patient’s legal guardian withdrew consent post-publication.

The paper, “Novel two-stage surgical treatment for Cantrell syndrome complicated by severe pulmonary hypertension: a case report,” describes the treatment of a six-month-old Han Chinese girl suffering from a rare combination of birth defects called Cantrell syndrome, complicated by pulmonary hypertension.

The original article, published in March 2014, has been removed from the journal’s website, though the abstract can be read on PubMed. It is unclear whether the authors, the child’s guardian, or some other party informed the editor of the withdrawal of consent.

The brief notice offers few details:

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Written by Megan Scudellari

April 28th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Wayward “contractor” prompts expression of concern for PLoS ONE paper on cancer cells

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logoThe editors of PLoS ONE have issued an Expression of Concern (which seems likely to become a retraction) for a 2014 paper by a group of researchers in China who claim to have been led astray by a contractor hired to “edit the language” of the report.

The article, “Arsenic Sulfide Promotes Apoptosis in Retinoid Acid Resistant Human Acute Promyelocytic Leukemic NB4-R1 Cells through Downregulation of SET Protein,” came from a group in the Department of Hematology at the First Affiliated Hospital at Xi’an Jiaotong University, and was led by Yuwang Tian, a pathologist at the General Hospital of Beijing Military Area of PLA.

Or at least that’s what the manuscript eventually said. According to the expression of concern, however, that’s not what it said initially: Read the rest of this entry »

Springer fake paper tally up to 18

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Written by Ivan Oransky

April 21st, 2014 at 11:30 am

Want to make sure your paper gets published? Just do your own peer review like this researcher did

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env managementWe’ve reported on some pretty impressive cases of researchers doing their own peer review, one of which led to 28 retractions. We have another.

Yongdeng Lei, of the School of Geography and Remote Sensing Science at Beijing Normal University, pulled the wool over the eyes of two Springer journals. Here’s the notice from Environmental Management for “Typhoon Disasters and Adaptive Governance in Guangdong, China:” Read the rest of this entry »

And then there were eight: Three more retractions for Alirio Melendez, all in the Journal of Immunology

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alirio_melendezAlirio Melendez, who has already retracted five papers and was found by one of his former universities to have committed misconduct on more than 20, has three more retractions.

Here’s the notice for “Antisense Knockdown of Sphingosine Kinase 1 in Human Macrophages Inhibits C5a Receptor-Dependent Signal Transduction, Ca2+ Signals, Enzyme Release, Cytokine Production, and Chemotaxis,” cited 68 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge: Read the rest of this entry »