Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘biochemistry’ Category

PLOS ONE retracts two papers one year after author says he okayed the move

with one comment

PLOS ONE has retracted two 2014 papers from a group of researchers, after an institutional investigation confirmed image duplication. Although the authors initially asked to correct the figures in the two papers, they ultimately agreed with the decision to retract.

Mrinal K. Maitian associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur and corresponding author on the two now-retracted PLOS ONE papersalso corrected a 2016 paper published in PLOS ONE over figure-related errors. Maiti is the only author in common to all papers.

A spokesperson for the journal told us:
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

November 17th, 2017 at 11:05 am

Caught Our Notice: Dear peer reviewer, please read the methods section. Sincerely, everyone

with 2 comments

Via Wikimedia

TitlePlasma contributes to the antimicrobial activity of whole blood against Mycobacterium tuberculosis

What Caught Our Attention: A big peer review (and perhaps academic mentorship) fail.  These researchers used the wrong anticoagulant for their blood samples, leading them to believe that certain blood components were fighting microbes. The authors counted the number of colonies to show how well or poorly Tuberculin mycobacteria were growing in cultures — but blood samples need anticoagulants to prevent clots before analysis, and they used an anticoagulant that actually prevented the microbes from colonizing. The authors (and reviewers) should have known this from  Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison Abritis

November 13th, 2017 at 8:00 am

Caught Our Notice: An “absolutely perfect retraction”

with one comment

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, more than 1300 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: Skeletal muscle-specific CPT1 deficiency elevates lipotoxic intermediates but preserves insulin sensitivity

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

Written by Alison Abritis

October 23rd, 2017 at 8:00 am

Author who previously claimed plagiarism was a mistake earns new erratum

without comments

A biotechnology journal has corrected a 2006 paper after discovering duplication and plagiarism.

This offense is the second we know of for the corresponding author, Uttam Chand Banerjee, in the same journal, Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. Last year, Banerjee—who works at National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) in Mohali, Punjab, India—had a 14-year-old review retracted in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology after an investigation revealed the authors had plagiarized from numerous sources and failed to reference them. At the time, Banerjee told us that he and his co-authors took a few lines from other reviews and that omitting the references was “simply unintentional.” According to The Indian Express, Banerjee also faced plagiarism allegations in 2005, and was denied a prestigious fellowship in 2011 as a result. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

September 8th, 2017 at 11:18 am

Author admits to manipulating more than a dozen images in 2013 paper

without comments

A former graduate student at the University of Hong Kong confessed to making “inappropriate modifications” to several figures in a 2013 paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC).

According to the retraction notice, the authors identified issues in 13 images while reviewing the data; the paper’s first author, Yingying Lu, copped to manipulating the figures. Even though “these modifications did not change the results or interpretations of this work,” the authors requested the paper be retracted.

The paper’s corresponding author, Jainbo Yue, previously based at the University of Hong Kong and now at the City University of Hong Kong, had nothing to add to the retraction notice, and told us that a “third person” is repeating the key experiments.

Here’s the retraction notice for “Two pore channel 2 (TPC2) inhibits autophagosomal-lysosomal fusion by alkalinizing lysosomal pH,” published in July: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

August 2nd, 2017 at 8:00 am

What a report into scientific misconduct reveals: The case of Frank Sauer

with 12 comments

Oct. 3, 2011, was the beginning of the end for Frank Sauer’s tenure at the University of California, Riverside. On that day, an anonymous emailer contacted Sauer’s institution with accusations that the biochemist had cooked his research in at least eight papers over a 16-year period.

Sauer was found to have doctored images in studies using government money — nearly $3 million of it. He went on to lose his position at UC Riverside, several papers to retraction, and, in May, a subsequent legal battle over the severity of the federal sanctions. Along the way, he concocted a fantastic tale of sabotage against German scientists (like himself), replete with poison-pen letters and fabricated credentials. 

Retraction Watch has obtained a copy of UC Riverside’s report on the Sauer case through a public records request. The report, which is undated but which describes committee meetings and interviews from October 2011 to October 2012, lists 33 allegations of scientific misconduct against Sauer, 20 of which the committee determined to involve deception. Of the remaining 13, the committee either could not find proof of guilt or determined that the data were legitimate.

Read the rest of this entry »

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

without comments

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 »

“An example for all authors to uphold:” Researcher logs 5 corrections

with 8 comments

A scientist in Ireland has corrected five of his papers in a single journal dating back more than a decade, after image-related problems were brought to his attention.

Four of the newly corrected papers have a common last and corresponding author: Luke O’Neill of Trinity College Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. O’Neill is also a co-author of the remaining paper that was fixed. O’Neill told us the mistakes were a “bit sloppy,” noting that he takes responsibility for the errors in the four papers on which he is last author.

O’Neill forwarded Retraction Watch a comment he received from Kaoru Sakabe — data integrity manager at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (which publishes The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC)) — that reads: Read the rest of this entry »

Researcher in Ireland loses two 13-year old studies

with 6 comments

journal-of-biological-chemistryThe Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) has retracted two 2003 studies after concluding that figures in the papers had been duplicated, and portions of some figures in one paper “did not accurately represent the results of the experimental conditions.”

The two newly retracted papers have the same last author — Therese Kinsella, a biochemist at the University College Dublin (UCD), who told us the data have been upheld by subsequent research, but that she supports the retractions, which are now part of a UCD investigation.

The retractions will bring up some familiar names: The first author on one of the papers is Sinéad Miggin from Maynooth University in the Republic of Ireland; in 2014, Miggin logged two retractions in the JBC, which triggered an investigation into co-author Aisha Qasim ButtLast year, Maynooth University revoked Butt’s PhD after she admitted to “falsification and misrepresentation” of data in both studies as well as her PhD thesis. At the time, Miggin and two other researchers were fully exonerated by Maynooth University from “any wrongdoing.”

Butt, however, is not an author of either of the newly retracted papers. Although Butt’s LinkedIn page still lists her as a postdoctoral researcher at UCD, a spokesperson from the institution told us she is no longer based there.

We don’t often see such old papers retracted. Kaoru Sakabe, Manager of Publishing Issues at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which publishes JBC, told us how this decision came about: Read the rest of this entry »

U Colorado’s former “golden boy” up to 7 retractions

with 9 comments

University of Colorado DenverA former graduate student at the University of Colorado Denver has gained three retractions and two expressions of concern (EOC), following an institutional probe into his work. 

Last year, we reported on an investigation by the University of Colorado Denver into the research of Rajendra Kadam, which recommended retracting 10 papers. The report also flagged eight additional papers co-authored by Kadam whose data could not be validated, raising “concerns as to the scientific validity and integrity” of the material. A few months later, we reported on some of the notices — four retractions and an EOC — that had begun to appear for Kadam’s manuscripts.

We’ve since discovered more notices, bringing his total to seven retractions and three EOCs. 

Kadam was once a prominent member in the lab of Uday Kompella, and often referred to by colleagues as the “golden boy,” according to the institution’s report. In 2012, he won a graduate student symposium award from the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.

A University of Colorado Denver spokesperson told Retraction Watch: Read the rest of this entry »