And then there’s uninformative as served up by the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
We’ve already recounted one teeth-grinding experience with the JBC, a publication of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The case involved two papers in JBC by Axel Ullrich, an esteemed cancer researcher at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. According to Ullrich, one of his then-postdocs, Naohito Aoki, had manipulated figures that appeared in the papers, necessitating their retraction.
We find that near-complete lack of information frustrating, not to mention useless to the scientific community. Unfortunately, it’s par for the course when it comes to the JBC and Bulfone-Paus retractions. The other three said exactly the same thing.
With that in mind, we thought it would be worth looking at all 12 retraction notices, as a sort of case series in journals’ transparency. We often look at particular retractions in a vacuum, but here was a chance to look at 12 papers, all retracted for the same reason, to see how each journal reported the withdrawal.
Yesterday, we noted that Axel Ullrich, a decorated cancer researcher, had retracted two papers in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The journal gave no explanation for the retractions, and our conversation with the publication director for the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which puts out the journal, was less than illuminating. This morning, Ullrich responded to all of the questions we sent him by email, and our follow-ups. The picture is now a lot more clear.
One of the world’s leading cancer researchers, Axel Ullrich of Germany, has retracted two papers published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
Ullrich, director of microbiology at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, has been a central figure in many groundbreaking discoveries, from the development of genetically engineered insulin to the identification of the breast cancer gene HER2. The founder of several biotech firms, he also runs an international consortium, the Singapore Oncogenome Project, looking for other so-called oncogenes linked to protein-tyrosine kinase, or PTK, an enzyme that regulates cell growth and which, when run amok, is implicated in a variety of tumor types.