RNA paper retracted for “carelessness in including some of the figures”

molcellbiochemHere at Retraction Watch, we’ve covered retractions for misconduct, journal errors, editorial system hacking and even no particular reason.

And that’s just in the last week.

However, we’ve identified a new reported reason: carelessness. A paper in Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry claimed to show how a tiny RNA causes fat cells to die.

Instead, the paper died.

Turned out that rather than describe previously published data, the authors say they inadvertently included a figure that had already appeared in another paper.

The retraction for “miR-598 induces replicative senescence in human adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells via silent information regulator 1,” reads, in full:

This article is being retracted at the request of the author due to carelessness in including some of the figures, which were published elsewhere.

We contacted the principal investigator on the paper, Jin Sup Jung, a physiology professor at the Pusan National University School of Medicine, and he emailed us the following response:

As described in the retraction notice, I used the same data that were published in a previous paper of my lab. The data represented the changes in a molecule during adsc senescence. We found that MiR-598 target the same molecule during adsc senescence. Therefore, it was necessary to describe the previous data in the 598 paper. Technically, we should have described the data by text with the citation of the previous paper instead of using the real data. No matter how it happens, I am responsible for it as the corresponding author.

So why throw out the entire study if one figure was repeated?

Irrespective of the significance of the remaining data, I thought the request of correction could not be accepted. There is also the copyright issue. Therefore, I thought that the retraction by myself is a better way than the retraction after the refusal of correction request.

3 thoughts on “RNA paper retracted for “carelessness in including some of the figures””

  1. I’m confused. The principal investigator wanted to submit a correction request to the editor, but thought it would not be accepted, and therefore decided to retract instead? Or the editor asked the principal investigator to submit a correction and the principal investigator refused to comply with that request and decided to retract instead? Or the first journal was making such a ruckus about copyright violation that no amount of apologizing and correcting would satisfy them, and a retraction was the only way to mollify them? Who is doing what to whom? (I sometimes have this problem when reading other kinds of, um, “literature”, but not when I’m reading about science.) 🙂

  2. Here’s how I understand it: he does this experiment with adsc senescence, makes a table of the data, and publishs it. Then he does another experiment with mi-598 in adsc senescence and gets ready to publish another paper. In the new paper, he refers to his previous data (say, in the introduction), not by the appropriate reference to the previous paper, but simply by repeating the table he made and published before. Then, after publishing the new paper, he somehow realizes (or is told) that it is 1) self-plagiarism and 2) a copyright violation, and decides to 1) publish a retraction and 2) fall on his sword.

  3. some how, i have uneasiness in accepting everything about mir’s. It is becoming prolific now that everyone relates everything to miRNAs. Research on miRNAs have been exponential and was published in high profile journals. Have we discovered some magic bullets? I have seen publications of targeting miRNAs for cancer therapy….

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