Group under investigation retracts second paper, claims errant figure was just a placeholder

The authors of a 2010 Journal of Immunology paper have retracted it, saying that part of one of the figures was actually a placeholder from another experiment.

According to the retraction notice for “Stimulation of FcgRI on Primary Sensory Neurons Increases Insulin-Like Growth Factor-I Production, Thereby Reducing Reperfusion-Induced Renal Injury in Mice” by Naoaki Harada, Juan Zhao, Hiroki Kurihara, Naomi Nakagata, and Kenji Okajima:

Panels C–H of Fig. 5 were incorrectly inserted by the first author, Dr. Naoki Harada. Dr. Harada made this figure for practice for a presentation at an International Congress. He drew data from another experiment in which the same procedure was done. At the time, he did not have correct data because he had not finished experiments to produce genuine data for the figure. Although he went on to finish experiments to get genuine data, he forgot to replace the figure with the correct one before the paper was submitted to The Journal of Immunology. Although the submission of the incorrect figure was unintentional, we hereby withdraw our article.

We haven’t seen that explanation before, and we have to admit we’re a bit skeptical. That’s because this is the second retraction for Okajima, whom we learned after the first retraction — for a 13 year-old paper — was under investigation for misconduct by the Nagoya City University and Kumamoto University. We haven’t heard any more news of that investigation, which apparently involves 17 of the group’s papers.

We’ve tried to contact Okajima and the editor of the Journal of Immunology for more details, and will update with anything we hear back.

Hat tip: Axel Heiser

4 thoughts on “Group under investigation retracts second paper, claims errant figure was just a placeholder”

  1. What the authors are saying is that it is honest error. But it is not,
    Take a look of this site.

    All 6 panels in Figure 5 (Panel C to Panel H) seem to be paired (G vs D, F vs E, and H vs C).

    Now question is the remaining 3 panels in Fig 5 are correct?

    Answer is no.
    Take a look of this
    A vs D and B vs E. They are paired.

    The authors should “retract” their explanation.

    1. Those links show 3×3 grid of pictures; I don’t see any ‘pairs’ of photos.

      I don’t quite follow your explanation of the photos being paired.

  2. dk – thanks for the links. there is obviously more than meets the eye, er, retraction. You could claim these images were ‘placeholders’, but not that they came from another experiment.

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