Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘image manipulation’ Category

German institute sanctions director after finding him guilty of misconduct

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The executive board of the Leibniz Association in Germany has reprimanded the director of its institute on aging for “grossly negligent scientific misconduct.”

Besides a written reprimand, the executive board has removed Karl Lenhard Rudolph’s “passive voting rights” in association committees, and excluded the institute under his leadership from receiving funds from a multi-million Euro internal funding competition, both for a period of three years.

The executive board identified problems in eight out of 11 reviewed papers, published between 2001 and 2016; it has asked Rudolph to retract one and issue errata for the others. The papers — some of which have been discussed on PubPeer — appear in journals such as Cell, Nature Cell Biology, and the EMBO Journal, and have been collectively cited 552 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

Rudolph is the director of one of the 91 independent research institutions that make up the Leibniz Association. He told us he is putting the position of Director of the Leibniz Institute on Aging – Fritz Lipmann Institute (FLI) in Jena “on hold” while he investigates the allegations:

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Written by Alison McCook

June 20th, 2017 at 11:39 am

Former prof fudged dozens of images, says university

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On Dec. 2, 2013, Alison Lakin, the research integrity officer at the University of Colorado Denver, received a concerning email.

The emailer was alleging several problems in a 2012 paper in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, co-authored by one of its high-profile faculty members. Lakin discussed the allegations with some administrators and agreed they had merit; Lakin sequestered an author’s laptop and other materials. Over the next few months, the university learned of additional allegations affecting other papers — and discovered even more serious problems in the JCI paper. Namely, the first author had inserted changes to 21 figures in the paper after submitting it, without alerting the other authors, journal, or reviewers.

That journal retracted the paper this month, citing numerous problems:

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OSU researcher under investigation corrects paper cited 500 times

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An EMBO journal has issued a correction for a well-cited 2012 review co-authored by a cancer researcher under investigation.

Carlo Croce, the last author on the review, has been beleaguered by misconduct accusations that have followed him for years (recently described in a lengthy article in the New York Times), and his university has recently re-opened an investigation into his work.

By our count, Croce — based at The Ohio State University — has logged six retractions, along with multiple expressions of concerns and corrections. The latest correction, in EMBO Molecular Medicine, notes the review lifted passages from multiple publications — and was in turn reused in later papers, as well.

Here’s the notice:

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Journal won’t look at allegations about papers more than six years old, nor comment on those from “public websites”

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After a paper is published, how long should a journal consider allegations of misconduct? For one journal, that answer is: Six years.

We see plenty of journals that retract papers at least 10 years old over concerns regarding misconduct, but in a recent editorial, Molecular and Cellular Biology announced it would pursue allegations made within six years after a paper is published. This rule mirrors federal regulations (which apply to the U.S. Office of Research Integrity), which also decline to investigate allegations if at least six years have passed since the incident supposedly occurred — but with some exceptions, such as if the misconduct could have an impact on public health.

Incidentally, the same issue of the journal includes a retraction notice for a paper published seven years ago, citing image duplications. A spokesperson for the American Society for Microbiology (which publishes the journal) told us the journal investigated the paper in 2016, within the cutoff period.

Here’s the key text from the editorial:

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“Data had been manipulated:” Science Translational Medicine retracts paper

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Science Translational Medicine has retracted a paper by researchers based in Switzerland, after an investigation concluded two figures had been manipulated.

The investigation occurred at the University of Basel. It’s not clear what prompted it, but the paper has been discussed at length on PubPeer. After the investigation concluded two figure panels included manipulated data, the last author asked to retract the paper.

Here’s the notice:

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Authors retract two plant biology papers over duplicated images

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Plant scientists have issued two retractions after noticing several images had been duplicated within and across the papers.

The papers both appeared in March 2002 in The Plant Cell and The Plant Journal.

The last author on both papers — Jonathan Jones, a professor and group leader at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, UK — took responsibility for the duplications. He told us:

As last author I was responsible for checking the papers but did not notice the similarities between figures in the different papers.  I regret this and took action as soon as I realized there was an issue. Both papers went through peer review and the issue was not picked up at that point either.

Susana Rivas, the first author on both papers, has collaborated with beleaguered plant scientist Oliver Voinnet — and was a second author on one of his eight retractions (which we covered here).

The editor-in-chief of TPJ Christoph Benning said that, after the authors contacted them, the journals looked into the issue, confirmed the duplications and then retracted the papers: Read the rest of this entry »

NIH neuroscientist up to 16 retractions

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Stanley Rapoport. Source: NIH

Neuroscientist Stanley Rapoport just can’t catch a break.

Rapoport, who’s based at National Institute on Aging, is continuing to experience fallout from his research collaborations, after multiple co-authors have been found to have committed misconduct.

Most recently, Rapoport has had four papers retracted in three journals, citing falsified data in a range of figures. Although the notices do not specify how the data falsification occurred, Jagadeesh Rao, who was recently found guilty of research misconduct, is corresponding author on all four papers.

Back in December, Rapoport told us that a “number of retractions [for] Rao are still in the works:” Read the rest of this entry »

“Clumsy but genuine errors” prompt PNAS correction

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Some accidental mistakes have led researchers to issue a long correction to a 2016 PNAS paper.

According to the notice, when the cell biology paper’s corresponding authors became aware of duplications in two images, they immediately notified the journal and the University of Nottingham. After examining the original data archives, the university found that the authors generated the correct images, but the person who prepared the figures selected the wrong images from the data archive.

According to John Atherton, faculty pro-vice-chancellor for the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham in the UK, who oversaw the investigation: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

June 1st, 2017 at 9:30 am

“There is an injustice in this article”

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The editors of a plant biology journal have retracted a 2007 paper because of “an injustice.”

According to the notice, the editors of Cytologia found evidence of “apparent figure manipulation,” and decided to retract the paper.

This marks the 10th retraction for plant biologist Dibyendu Talukdar.

Talukdar, who is first and corresponding author on the 2007 paper and listed at the University of Calcutta in West Bengal, India, received his first retraction last July, which also cited suspected figure manipulation. Earlier this year, Talukdar received eight more retractions in seven different journals, all describing concerns over potential image duplication and manipulation.

Here’s the most recent retraction notice in Cytologia: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

May 26th, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Paper with duplicated image “sequentially builds” on neuroscience work, authors argue

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A neurochemistry journal has retracted a paper from a group in China over a duplicated image.

According to the notice, the authors used the same image in the two papers to represent different experimental conditions. The only distinguishing feature between the images: “apparent brightness changes.”

The authors defended their actions, explaining that the research published in Journal of Neurochemistry “sequentially builds” on their previous study in Journal of Neuroinflammation, which they mention in the 2015 paper’s discussion. In the notice, the authors were quoted saying:  Read the rest of this entry »