Something was fishy at China Normal University. According to the journal Anti-Cancer Drugs, a 2010 paper by researchers at the Beijing school — “3,30′-Diindolylmethane negatively regulates Cdc25A and induces a G2/M arrest by modulation of microRNA21 in human breast cancer cells” — turned out to have suffered from an unfortunate anomaly. According to the retraction notice:
The article by Y. Jin et al.  has been retracted. It had come to our attention that the information received on authorship and author agreement to submit and publish this paper could not be relied upon. A committee at the Capital Normal University, Beijing, China, convened to investigate this matter, stated that Yucui Jin submitted the study without seeking prior permission of the other two authors. Y. Jin apologizes to the other named authors and the Journal readership.
Forged authorship is hardly a new sin. We’ve covered it before. But that doesn’t make it any less of a head-scratcher. Indeed, we think it’s an order of magnitude higher on the Bonehead Scale than cut-and-paste plagiarism, which does take a least a little effort to detect. After all, with so many eyes on the literature, the second a new article appears in Pubmed or on a listserv it’s likely to be seen by a colleague somewhere, who is liable to fire off a congratulatory email or otherwise acknowledge the paper.
Of course, what these sorts of cases underscore is the tissue-thin protection author agreements and other affirmations of sincerity journals ask their authors to sign. Is there a better system?