Journal reveals real reason for retraction of paper by author who threatened to sue Retraction Watch

cureusLast week, we reported on the retraction of a paper by Benjamin Jacob Hayempour, a researcher who had threatened to sue us last month for even reporting on another of his retractions.

The journal, Cureus, told us at the time that the retraction — in which the article disappeared, without a notice — didn’t have anything to do with fraud or plagiarism. Hayempour said that “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.”

But we now have the whole story, which reads a bit differently. According to a comment left on our post by journal editor-in-chief John Adler, it was intellectual property issues that forced the retraction:

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paper entitled “Novel Determinants of Tumour Radiosensitivity Post Large Scale Compound Library 13 January 2013” has been retracted because it was published without the consent of the study’s Principal Investigator, Dr Geoffrey Higgins of Oxford University, and included data that is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

Higgins, we should note, was not one of paper’s authors.

Adler continued:

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.

We’ve contacted Hayempour to ask about the apparent contradiction, and will update with anything we learn.

6 thoughts on “Journal reveals real reason for retraction of paper by author who threatened to sue Retraction Watch”

  1. I nominate Adler to the RW Hall of Fame for his response to you guys. Good model for editors to follow, though a few less shameless journal plugs and puns would be highly welcome.

  2. The comments thread on the original threat post is worth re-reading. Hayempour is quite the polymath. Or something…

  3. With regards to authorship disputes; what can an assistant professor who consents, -under duress- to giving first authorship to an influential, power -abusive professor , do? Can such a misconduct be investigated by editors or publishers post publication?

    1. I would say that in that situation it is not the job of the editor or publisher to investigate and make a determination, but rather the research ethics process at the author’s institution.

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