Author who threatened to sue Retraction Watch has another paper withdrawn

cureusBenjamin Jacob Hayempour, the researcher who threatened to sue us for asking questions about a retraction for plagiarism, has had another paper withdrawn.

The paper, published online in the journal Cureus, was titled “Novel Determinants of Tumour Radiosensitivity Post-Large-Scale Compound Library Screening” and had been available at since January 13, but that URL now redirects to Cureus’s homepage.

We asked Cureus editor-in-chief John Adler for details, and he responded:

Yes this paper has been withdrawn.  I can state confidently that the details for this decision do NOT relate to either scientific fraud or plagiarism.  However, to protect the interests of some co-authors I do not want to say more.

The two co-authors were Abdul Azziz AlMana and Anand S. Patel. We’ve asked Hayempour for details, and will update with anything we learn.

Hayempour has corrected at least one paper. Find out more from Neuroskeptic, who discovered the issues in that article.

Update, 5:55 p.m. Eastern, 1/17/14: Hayempour tells us:

In the pursuit of excellent science, I personally withdrew the article temporarily in order to add an extra section which will make the paper more clinically relevant.

30 thoughts on “Author who threatened to sue Retraction Watch has another paper withdrawn”

  1. So this is a journal that does not retract a paper, but disappears it. This hardly seems to be a publishing Best Practice.

    1. You are right. Remember, Robert Trivers fought five years to have his dance study retracted (suspecting fraud from a co-author). At Cureus, it seems, the author can withdraw a paper secretly over night. Trivers would have loved that. And one of the OMICS papers withdrew a paper – supposedly by Hayempour -secretly over night, because they did not even know who wrote it. Who ever is reading that stuff?

    1. Thanks for being curious and Cureus! As editor in chief I now have permission from the aggrieved party, Oxford University, to be more open about the reason for Hayenpour’s retraction. We will now be posting on the journal page the following statement:

      ‘The paper entitled “Novel Determinants of Tumour Radiosensitivity Post Large Scale Compound Library 13 January 2013” has been retracted because it was published without the consent of the study’s Principal Investigator, Dr Geoffrey Higgins of Oxford University, and included data that is commercially sensitive.

      Hopefully this will allay your concerns that Cureus had some nefarious interest in this retraction. The fact that this process has taken a few days to sort out and for Cureus to arrive at a formal statement reflects the rather peculiar nature of this retraction and the fact that this is the first retraction our young journal has had to deal with. Despite statements to the contrary, I think if you check our Cureus you will come away convinced that we are attempting to be more transparent and less political than any other medical journal…..& FREE.

  2. I have seen another silent retraction in Brazil, where the paper Bioscience Journal, UFU, v. 18, n. 2, p. 67-76, 2002 was removed from online access and the authors from the search list without any notice. The same authors had also threatened a Brazilian blog called Ciencia Brasil for peeking into a series of published issues and questionable facts. I think these silent retractions are a side effect from the existence of Retraction Watch.

    I was expecting this Benjamin guy to take a bit longer in disappointing us about his claims that he would mend things in a just, transparent way and wahwahwah. Maybe one day… “up to know, I do the best I can…” (quoting Dickinson, Iron Maiden)

  3. I’m sure everyone has heard of the “smell test.” Two retractions, a threat to sue…smells bad. Fess up, who farted?

    From the journal Cureus’s “about” page ( “At Cureus, we subscribe to the…idea that publishing peer-reviewed medical science can and should be a…more transparent process…”

    I do not see how “…to protect the interests of some co-authors I do not want to say more” adheres to this philosophy. Mr. Adler, can you please explain this to me?

    On another note, any credible scientist should look at the “for authors” page of this journal:

    Read #s 3, 4, and 5 in particular. Is it possible NOT to have a paper published in this journal? And based on these guidelines, how is it possible to have a paper retracted/withdrawn from this journal?

    1. And, in sprite of apparently multiple rounds of reviewing and editing, they aim to publish within 5 to 7 DAYS of SUBMITTING. Also, authors propose the reviewers. Take this further and one might submit a manuscript ready with author-invited reviews, that would definitely further expedite publishing.

      This journal is bogus.

  4. at least there doesn’t appear to be a publication fee…

    but the idea of “invite five reviewers of your choosing” and once two of them respond, you can get published… without any conflict of interest rules for what reviewers can be invited? I mean, it does say that the editor will make sure that all review comments are accepted… but what’s the point of review if you’re essentially guaranteed a friendly set of reviews.

    1. QAQ…..yes Cureus is different and maybe not for everyone. The purpose of peer review in the Cureus world is to make a paper the best it can be, not to kill the ideas within. Aren’t you glad no one is shutting you up for political reasons when you past a message on this discussion thread? The quality of a Cureus paper is no longer determined by the fact that it is published, (truthfully as you know one can get almost any paper published in a peer reviewed journal somewhere) but rather what the community at large thinks of the quality of the science post publication; Cureus utilizes a unique method we term SIQ, which invites all readers of a paper to communally judge for themselves (“crowd source”) the article in question. Of course the concept of post publication critique can introduce its own source of bs…..perhaps the initial publication of the current retracted article being a case in point, but at the same time the design of Cureus peer eliminates the political bs that kills many good ideas; as a seasoned academic I know a lot about the later! By all means check out Cureus and get to know us better. BTW…..the EIC also invites outside reviewers to review every paper.

      Thnx for keeping us honest!

      1. I appreciate your response; however, I disagree with this method of publishing for the following reasons:
        1) If you want the best possible review process to improve a paper, it seems counterproductive to aim to publish within a week of submission or review returns. There is a delicate balance between being streamlined and being too quick.
        2) While the editors pick their own reviewers, the policies of having only the first two reviews be required and the author to make the final publishing decision still allows the authors to stack their reviews.

        Mentioned below is the case studies of neurosurgical removal of reward centers. I agree with you that if these surgeries are being performed, their limitations and outcomes should be in the literature. However, with the particularly troubling history of psychosurgery, I believe that reports like this deserve more, rather than less, intense peer review and careful editing. One has only to read Fulton’s “The Physiological Basis of Psychosurgery” and then Pressman’s “The Last Resort” to understand the damage that has been done in this area and the potential harm of medical literature.

        With agreement that accounts of medical procedures being performed regularly really should end up in the literature, the question becomes how should sensitive case studies be reported and people not shut up for political reasons? The answer: prudent editing. Having a board of editors whose mission it is to publish regardless of political opinion would certainly allow this. Of course, nothing is perfect… but if editors had the requirement to solicit 2 expert reviewers not suggested by the author and had final say, I believe that better papers could be published. The editors could still work with reviewers over time to ensure that a best possible work comes out, that nothing is silenced over politics, and that ethically contentious studies come with a competent and thorough discussion of the ethics. When the authors have final publishing say and there is no oversight, it just feels too much like vanity publishing. Unfortunately, I’ve heard many statements like “Oh, you could never be chair of an orthopedics dept. without 300 publications” suggesting that unfortunately, in medicine, quantity often counts more than quality. To improve the quality of the medical literature, I believe that it is better to slow down, not speed up, medical publishing and be more careful than ever about thorough peer review.

  5. @tekija There is an old term for this and it isn’t “Open Access”. It is “Vanity Publishing”, a practice common the days of hot lead amongst the well to do in with literary and other pretensions, whereby they gain some sort of legitimacy through the process of formal publication.
    This is NOT to be confused by blogging, which relates more to the pamphleteers.

      1. Vanity publishing had a narrow definition. A person of means (you can figure the origins of the term from the wording here!) would write something (generally a book of prose, poetry, non-fiction), which was deemed not to be marketable by publishers. The individual would use their considerable means to pay to have the book published and have a run of a few 100 copies, which they would give to friends and place in a few key bookshops (with no down payment required by the shop).
        Open access (when not of the predatory variety) is different, since it the paper is deemed after review to have a “market”. I do agree that things get a little blurry both on the OA front an in the traditional science publishing sector, particularly at the “glam” end, since hype and fashion dictate market and not necessarily scientific rigor. This might suggest that OA is only a transition to some other form of dissemination of data, synthesis of ideas and so on.

        1. Obviously my question was intended to plumb the waters of the changing world of publishing. Historically vanity publishing had only negative connotations and referred to a publication that was deemed to be generally self serving and unworthy. However, all the big publishers like to feed this perception thereby enhancing their perceived value as the exalted purveyors of taste, and in the case of science, guardians of the collective scientific well being. Personally I find too much of this self serving especially since these publishers are laughing all the way to the bank. I believe that the Internet now has the ability to democratize the generation, curation and publication of human knowledge. If through these beliefs I am now endorsing vanity publishing, then so be it, which was where my rhetorical point was headed! 🙂

  6. One of things that disturbs me about this author’s approach to science is written on this linked in page.

    His recent activity several times has quotes like this “Radiologist or neuroscientist needed: we have a publishable manuscript on frontal lobe dysfunction and violent behaviour. We need 1 more coauthor to help finish this manuscript. It will get published. Email me for details.”

    Is this how scientific papers are written now ? Randomly looking for coauthors on the Internet ! How does ne know it will get published ! I suppose it helps if you are Editor-in-Chief of a journal …….

    1. amazing find… Publishing has become an informal job. Maybe we could have algorithms and robots to generate papers to our CV.

    2. Trillian: To me this is shocking. Would you mind providing the link? I’m not convinced this is really science publishing we’re talking about here. According to pubmed Hayempour has 8 publications (including the already retracted paper but not the retraction notice), 7 of which were published in 2013. They all appear to be the same – literature review and maybe opinion, no original research at all. And we saw quite clearly on the previous RW discussion the many problems and questions with those papers. This looks like someone trying to build a hefty publication list for their resume as quickly and with as little effort as possible.

        1. I have serious reservations about LinkedIn (to be polite and euphemistic). Such sites are simply vanity collection sites that seek to use profiles for what purpose? Is revenue generated through advertising? In 2013, I received a horrific spam from about 100 scientists inviting me to LinkedIn and in total in excess of 500 e-mails. This company has got to reign in this nonsense. Will LinkedIn withdraw papers that have been retracted? I could not find any policy on this or on research or publishing ethics…

  7. While striving to improve upon ones published work is admirable, it is more usual to do this by submitting a Correction, not by disappearing the original…

  8. LPU/Vanity publishing (VP) in medicine is getting absurd and needs to stop. American Universities need to take charge and stop supporting people who give some semblance of prima facie legitimacy to journals like this by joining their “editorial” staffs. Beyond just the extreme VP of OMICS/Cureus… is the equally bad LPU that plagues academic medical departments… how people who spend 5-10 hours a week on “research” could publish 20 papers of any quality in a year in beyond me… not even folks with HHMI size labs full of post-docs could keep that up…

  9. This “Cureus” seems to be a very special science journal anyway. They published two papers about a radical new treatment for addiction, developed in China. This is unbelievable. It consists of surgically destroying the reward center of the addict’s brain. Talking about “throwing the baby out with the bath water”. I don’t want this to be done to me, especially by one Dr. Hayempour.

    And to this “retraction” – well, formally it is none. As others have noticed, it is a “disappearance”. As journals like this practice retractions as covert operations, Retraction Watch should open a new subsidiary, “Disappearance Watch”.

    1. Hey Rolf… you are talking about something I do know a lot about! Did you read the Chinese paper on nucleau accumbens lesioning published in Cureus? If so, do you believe the paper per se was advocating that this procedure be adopted for treating addicts? For the record the purpose of the paper was to report for the first time in the English medical literature the outcomes is a group of patients undergoing this operation…..a procedure that has been done 1000s of time in China over the past few decades. For better or worse the outcomes were reported in Cureus. The take home message is that lesioning of the N accumbens does diminish craving but it is also associated with a high risk of complications. Is it better to have this information in the public domain or pretend it doesn’t exist? Is communal ignorance a better situation. Many of the big name psychiatry journals rejected this paper for the later reason….the topic was too politically dicey for them. But the truth is the knowledge from this paper is allowing us to come up with new “non-destructive” procedures for addiction using either deep brain stimulation of in my case precision radiation. Without the paper in Cureus we would be running blind.

      Cureus was the first journal to have the cojones to publish this general experience with n accumbens lesioning. Since then a more mainstream (Elsevier) journal has published a follow study from more or less the same group of Chinese investigators:

      World Neurosurg. 2013 Sep-Oct;80(3-4):S28.e9-19. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2012.10.007. Epub 2012 Oct 6.
      Nucleus accumbens surgery for addiction.

      The take home message is that Cureus is not your typical journal and we want to publish all legitimate medical science, and should illegitimate science be published we want to sniff/root it out as fast as possible. That is one reason I do respect the work being done by Retraction watch despite the occasional zealotry targeted towards me! 🙂

          1. Hi John,

            who else could be the wunderkind? By the way, I asked Kent Berridge, the most eminent researcher of the reward center of the brain, about that addiction therapy. He doubts “that the surgery is as helpful as portrayed in the articles”. He also fears “that the addicts have side effects of the brain lesions that entail more impairments than the authors recognize.” And here it comes: “When surgical teams are the only one doing assessment of psycho surgery success, this fits an alarming able pattern of misleading claims going back many decades.” We all have a reward center, it steers us through life, and it isn’t there just for fun.

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