Retraction Watch readers are likely to be familiar with Germany’s Research Center Borstel, because it is home to Silvia Bulfone-Paus, who has recently retracted 12 papers. Now it turns out that Borstel’s managing director, Peter Zabel — who was involved in the Bulfone-Paus investigation — has stepped down because of allegations of duplication of his own work.
According to a statement from Borstel, translated from German:
The Research Center Borstel finds itself confronted with a further case of possible scientific misconduct. It has to do with an accusation of plagiarism directed at Prof. Peter Zabel and his coworkers. The allegation was reported immediately by Prof Zabel in a voluntary declaration and by the ombudsmen of the Research Center Borstel.
Prof Zabel has preliminarily accepted the responsibility and has stepped down from his position as Managing Director, with immediate effect, until the end of the internal inquiry by the ombudsmen. His duties as a department director will be suspended until the conclusion of the investigation.
The supervisory bodies of the Research Center Borstel, the Leibniz Association as well as the University of Lübeck were promptly informed.
With the ending, Borstel seems to be drawing a contrast between Zabel and Bulfone-Paus, who waited nearly three months before notifying anyone of the allegations against her lab.
According to Laborjournal — disclosure: we have a column in their English-language publication — the alleged self-plagiarism, aka duplication, is of a paper on pentoxifylline and tumor necrosis factor that the Zabel group published in German in 1992 and then in English in 1993. Apparently it is not all that uncommon for authors to publish versions of their work in different languages.
We’ve contacted Zabel and Borstel for comment, and will update with anything we hear back.
Please see an update about a different paper from Zabel that is to be retracted.
Hat tip: “Clare Francis.” Thanks to Nancy Lapid for translation.