Brazilian researcher on 11 retracted papers loses academic post

ufmtDenis de Jesus Lima Guerra, a co-author on 11 chemistry papers that were retracted in 2011 for suspicions of fraud, has lost his position at the Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT).

Bernardo Esteves, who was first to report the news, writes (courtesy Google Translate) that the dismissal was

based on four statutory grounds: to avail himself of the position to take personal advantage of administrative misconduct, lacking in loyalty to the institution that served and disrespect to the legal standards and regulations.

Why did the process take three years?

“The prosecuting Commission requested numerous extensions, considering the complexity of the facts, and conducting forensic, documentary and testimonial analyzes, with 14 witnesses,” he explained, by e-mail, the dean of UFMT, Maria Lucia Cavalli Neder. “The UFMT oversees the quality and credibility of their scientific production and regrets that this event has occurred, especially in a time of expanding its undergraduate, postgraduate and research,” said the dean.

The case also involved Guerra’s co-author, Claudio Airoldi, who was suspended for 45 days, and

led to the creation of a commission by CNPq Integrity in Scientific Activity to investigate allegations of misconduct. The doctor and biophysicist Paulo Sergio Lacerda Beirão, UFMG professor who headed the commission for two and a half years, recalled that the episode was very shocked the community. “We would prefer to think that this problem did not exist until the reality showed that it was different.”

4 thoughts on “Brazilian researcher on 11 retracted papers loses academic post”

  1. I personally think this late punishment had a strong political component to it. According with one person interviewed, who is one of the main organizers in events on academic ethics “the news comes at a time when Brazil is under focus of interest of scholars worldwide. “We’re being seen as a country that is taking seriously the issue of integrity in research,” she said, adding that Rio will host the 4th World Conference on Research Integrity in 2015.”

    The case is always hailed by Brazilian newpapers as the “greatest scientific fraud” in the country, based on the number of retracted papers. It should be reminded that the retractions were actually not completed, and that they took place at the onset of this blog. Probably editors and authors did not expect so much public attention to them. I am not sure if the number of actually retracted papers is really higher than the number of exposed papers by other groups from the region discussed in this blog, the difference being that today those are either now ignored or stitched with lame corrections. A quick search into PubPeer will reveal much.

    Mark that Guerra was a co-author, and the responsible PI declared “never having really read” the papers as defense, and another co-author was never really inquired.

    Brazilian academia really should investigate claims of misconduct independent of prior retraction decisions, and start effectively punishing big 1A/B responsible researchers, otherwise nothing much will change and any positive impression built will remain only superficial.

    1. You ´re absolutely right. As a brazilian scientist I know that many 1A/1B CNPq scientists are not much worried about real good science and to teach this to their students and collaborators. What is all about is money, power and prestige. Oh yeah, and to keep the 1A 1B scholarship… As long as CNPq and CAPES grant the pseudo-scientists as “big ones” nothing will gonna change. Sadly…

  2. Some updates on this case, which kindda illustrates how things are working against what is being sold.
    i) Note that essentially all “blame” was put on the first author that lost his job. However, a long series of problematic papers has been just exposed in PubPeer link below… all with the same head PI. Alas, the punished author was not the root of the problem, it seems.

    ii) Oh sorry, did I say (and Retraction Watch, and newspapers, and …everyone else) say that the first author researcher got punished, sacked, lost his job? Not quite sure now, as both his online CV and his department website, linked below, (, clearly state he never left his post at that university!

    iii) Yet another detail: not all 11 papers got retracted! Checking on their present state will reveal that several are still fine and going.

    Well, well, this is maybe what it means, “much ado for nothing”. Back to ground zero.

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