Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

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Journal flags another paper by diabetes researcher who sued to stop retractions

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It would seem that resorting to legal means to avoid editorial notices doesn’t always work.

We’re coming to that conclusion after seeing yet another notice for Mario Saad, based at the University of Campinas in São Paulo, Brazil. In this case, it’s an expression of concern from the Journal of Endocrinology, on a 2005 paper that lists Saad as the second-to-last author. According to the notice, the journal is concerned the paper contains spliced and duplicated images; although the authors offered to repeat the experiments, the journal considered that potential delay “unacceptable.”

Despite Saad’s legal efforts, he is now up to 11 retractions, along with multiple expressions of concern.

Here’s the full text of the notice (which is paywalled, tsk tsk):

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Researcher sued to stop retractions; he just earned two more and is now up to 11

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The notices keep coming for diabetes researcher Mario Saad.

Diabetes has just retracted two more of his papers, both of which had been flagged by expressions of concern, citing problems with duplications. What’s more, the journal added another expression of concern to a 2009 paper on which Saad — based at the University of Campinas in São Paulo, Brazil — is listed as last author, again over concerns of duplication.

This isn’t Saad’s first run-in with the journal: In 2015, the researcher sued the publisher, the American Diabetes Association, after it issued expressions of concern for four of his papers. Later that year, a judge dismissed Saad’s defamation suit. The journal eventually retracted the papers.

The latest articles flagged by Diabetes appear to be part of an intricate publishing web, as the journal suggests all papers have used features of previous papers, and also include elements that have been republished by subsequent articles.

Here’s the first retraction notice, for “A Central Role for Neuronal AMP-Activated Protein Kinase (AMPK) and Mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR) in High-Protein Diet–Induced Weight Loss:”

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Researcher logs three retractions for image duplications — two of which with familiar co-authors

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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 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 »

Judge tosses case, saying that court-ordered retractions are not part of scientific publication

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“Retractions are part and parcel of academic and scientific publication. Court ordered retractions are not.”

So ends a judge’s September 30, 2016 opinion dismissing a case brought in 2014 by Andrew Mallon, a former Brown University postdoc, alleging that his advisor and former business partner, John Marshall, had published a paper in 2013 in PLOS Biology that should have listed him as a co-author.

As with most court cases, this one had a long backstory: An earlier version of the paper had listed Mallon as a co-author, but was rejected by Neuron in 2011; after the authors had a dispute over the data, a different version of the manuscript was submitted to PLOS Biology in 2012, leaving Mallon off the co-author list. So Mallon had sued to have the paper retracted.

In communications with Retraction Watch and other media, as well as during depositions of the plaintiffs, Mallon referred frequently to allegations of scientific misconduct, including the fact that the first author of the PLOS Biology paper had an unrelated paper retracted in 2010 for duplicated data. However, this case was brought under the Copyright Act, which focused on the authorship dispute.

Kevin Tottis, who represented Marshall and co-defendant Dennis Goebel, told Retraction Watch his clients “are delighted with the judge’s decision.” Massachusetts District Court Judge Timothy Hillman, he said, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

December 14th, 2016 at 1:00 pm

A paper was published in 2015; the authors already lost the data

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American Journal of Physiology Renal PhsyiologyThe authors of a 2015 study have retracted it after discovering that several Western blots in their paper “do not represent the experiments that were reported.”

They couldn’t check some of the original blots, because — according to the retraction notice in the American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology — they could not be located. The ones that could be found, however, are “inconsistent with what is presented in the figures.”

Here’s the retraction notice, published last month: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

December 8th, 2016 at 11:30 am

New funding for researcher who sued to stop retractions (and now has 8)

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Mario Saad

Mario Saad

A diabetes researcher with eight retractions — despite his attempts to block some in court — has received a new batch of research funding.

According to a release from public funding agency Fundacao de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado de Sao Paulo (FAPESP), Mario Saad is among 33 researchers who will receive funding from partnerships between federal and state agencies, including FAPESP.

It’s unclear how much Saad’s project will individually receive, but the total for all projects exceeds 640 million Brazilian Real, equivalent to $185 million USD.

Saad’s name should be familiar to our readers.

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Written by Alison McCook

November 14th, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Researcher who sued to stop retractions earns his 8th

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Mario Saad

Mario Saad

Mario Saad, a diabetes researcher who once sued to stop a publisher from retracting his papers, has just received his eighth retraction.

Critical Care has retracted a 2012 paper about treating sepsis, citing extensive similarities between figures within the paper and 10 others.

Here’s the full notice for “Diacerhein attenuates the inflammatory response and improves survival in a model of severe sepsis:” Read the rest of this entry »

Researcher who sued to stop retractions earns his 7th

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Mario Saad

Mario Saad

A diabetes researcher who sued to stop a publisher from retracting his papers has just received his seventh retraction.

The latest retraction for Mario Saad, who is based at the University of Campinas (Unicamp) in São Paulo, Brazil, is for a PLOS ONE paper (which was altered last year by a mega-correction). Although an institutional investigation found no evidence of research misconduct, the notice states:

the preparation of the figures falls below the standard of publication and therefore the authors and the editors have agreed that the correct action is to retract the article. 

Saad previously sued the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to remove expressions of concern from four of his papers published in the organisation’s flagship journal, Diabetes. However, all four of the papers were later retracted after the suit was dismissed in 2015.

Here’s the new retraction notice, issued July 8: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

July 13th, 2016 at 11:30 am

Lawsuit against publisher over retraction comes a step closer to reality

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De GruyterAn author has begun the process of taking legal action against a publisher for retracting his paper.

As we reported last month, John Bishop, the CEO of an independent media company called Crocels, based in Pontypridd, Wales, argues that by taking down his paper, De Gruyter defamed him and breached a contract — their agreement to publish his paper. Now, Bishop has sent the publisher what’s known in the UK as a “letter of claim.”

In the letter, Bishop writes:

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Author threatens to sue Elsevier if paper remains retracted

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Computational Materials Science

An author is prepared to sue Elsevier if it doesn’t un-retract his paper.

Computational Materials Science published two papers by the same author just eight months apart; nearly four years later, the journal pulled one for duplication. Author Masoud Panjepour, affiliated with Isfahan University of Technology in Iran, told us that he is working with a lawyer to negotiate a solution. However, if the publisher does not un-retract the paper, he does “not rule out filing a lawsuit.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “The effect of temperature on the grain growth of nanocrystalline metals and its simulation by molecular dynamics method,” which appeared last November:

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