Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘figure misuse’ Category

Caught Our Notice: Researcher who sued PubPeer commenter draws 19th retraction  

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Increased Ras GTPase activity is regulated by miRNAs that can be attenuated by CDF treatment in pancreatic cancer cells

What Caught Our Attention: We’ve been following cancer scientist Fazlul Sarkar for years, as he (unsuccessfully) sought to expose the identity of a PubPeer commenter who he believes cost him a job offer. In November 2016, the ACLU released a copy of a misconduct investigation report compiled by Wayne State University, which concluded Sarkar ran a laboratory “culture” of “fabrication, falsification and/or plagiarism of data,” and recommended the retraction of 42 papers and correction of 10 papers. He’s now lodged his 19th retraction. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

December 28th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Caught Our Notice: Investigation finds “accidental mistakes” in PNAS stem cell paper

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Via Wikimedia

When Retraction Watch began in 2010, our co-founders Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus quickly realized they couldn’t keep up with the hundreds of retractions that appeared each year.  And the problem has only gotten worse — although we’ve added staff, the number of retractions issued each year has increased dramatically. According to our growing database, just shy of 1,000 retractions were issued last year (and that doesn’t include expressions of concern and errata). So to get new notices in front of readers more quickly, we’ve started a new feature called “Caught our Notice,” where we highlight a recent notice that stood out from the others. If you have any information about what happened, feel free to contact us at

Title: Combined hydrogels that switch human pluripotent stem cells from self-renewal to differentiation 

What caught our attention: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

October 16th, 2017 at 8:30 am

Four JBC retractions add up to 8 in total for cancer research pair

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47.coverThe Journal of Biological Chemistry is retracting four papers by a pair of cancer researchers at Tulane University, bringing their total to eight.

The retractions are all for reusing parts of figures, either within a paper or from other papers by the pair. Thanks to a new policy at the journal to publish informative notes, we know the figures that were problematic, and the papers that they borrow from. 

An investigation by Tong Wu and Chang Han’s former employer, the University of Pittsburgh, had already led to four retractions for the pair, including two issued this summer.

First up, “Activation of cytosolic phospholipase A2α through nitric oxide-induced S-nitrosylation. Involvement of inducible nitric-oxide synthase and cyclooxygenase-2,” which has been cited 50 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Here’s the note: Read the rest of this entry »

Genetics paper retracted for using material “without permission and/or proper reference”

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Molecular Genetics and GenomicsA review article about a tool used to link genes to traits and behaviors has been retracted for including content “without permission and/or proper reference.”

Corresponding author Ali Masoudi-Nejad at the University of Tehran told us that the retraction occurred mostly because the paper included many figures and tables from other sources, and he didn’t realize they needed to seek permission from both the author and the copyright-holder (ie, the publisher). He added that he doubts he is the only one to make this mistake: Read the rest of this entry »

Mirror image in plant study flagged on PubPeer grows into retraction

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djs_mpmi_28_9_cover-online.inddA 2010 paper on plant fungus has been retracted after a comment on PubPeer revealed that a study image had been flipped over and reused to represent two different treatments.

In May, a commenter pointed out the plants in Figure 2a of the paper in the journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions “look remarkably similar.” A commenter writing under the name of corresponding author, Yukio Tosa at Kobe University in Japan, posted a response two days later agreeing with the assessment and stating that the paper should be retracted.

The notice reads: Read the rest of this entry »

Nothing gold can stay: gold nanoparticle paper retracted for figure theft

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matresexpA paper on gold nanoparticles has been retracted after the publisher learned one of the figures had a “high degree of similarity” to a figure published by other authors a few months prior.

According to the notice, it was two authors of the retracted paper themselves who pointed out the overlap. The first author, Pratap Sahoo, is not mentioned, although it does say all three authors agreed to retract. The corresponding author of the original paper told us he was unaware of the incident.

You can compare the figures for yourself – on the left is figure 6(a) from the retracted Materials Research Express paper, rotated 90 degrees. On the right is figure 4(e) from “Porous Au Nanoparticles with Tunable Plasmon Resonances and Intense Field Enhancements for Single-Particle SERS,” published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters: Read the rest of this entry »

Kidney journal to retract stem cell paper for duplicated and doctored images

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kidney intKidney International is in the process of retracting a stem cell paper containing plagiarized images, Retraction Watch has learned.

Here’s the notice that will appear for “Human renal stem/progenitor cells repair tubular epithelial cell injury through TLR2-driven inhibin-A and microvesicle-shuttled decorin“: Read the rest of this entry »

Post-doc fired after explaining image problems in paper to Retraction Watch

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Christian Ramos

Christian Ramos

We reported last week on a Portuguese group that lost two papers over mislabeled image files.

Now, we’ve learned that first author Christian Ramos has been fired after speaking to Retraction Watch and offering what seemed like a heartfelt apology (which you can read here). Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

November 3rd, 2014 at 9:30 am

Authors retract PNAS paper questioned on PubPeer after original films can’t be found

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pnas31912PubPeer leads the way again: The authors of a paper about Parkinson’s disease in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) have retracted it, several months after a commenter highlighted the exact issue that led to the article’s demise.

The paper, originally published in September 2013, was called into question by a commenter on PubPeer in July 2014, who identified two of the paper’s figures as duplications: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

October 23rd, 2014 at 10:30 am

“This situation left me ashamed and infuriated with myself:” Scientist retracts two papers

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j bacteriologyA Portuguese group has retracted two papers in the Journal of Bacteriology after mislabeled computer files led to the wrong images being used.

And, we’ve learned in a heartfelt email, the first author was devastated.

Here’s the notice for “MtvR Is a Global Small Noncoding Regulatory RNA in Burkholderia cenocepacia”: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

October 17th, 2014 at 12:00 pm