Paper on cranberries’ health benefits retracted after researcher forges authors’ names

Image via Bruce Foster.
Image via Bruce Foster.

A paper in Food Chemistry suggesting cranberry extract has healing properties was retracted after some of the authors complained they had no idea the paper was being published.

Here’s the notice for “Phenolic composition, antioxidant properties, and endothelial cell function of red and white cranberry fruits:”

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief and authors, because certain members of the authorship group were not aware that the paper had been submitted to the journal and published. Consequently, neither those co-authors nor their supervisors reviewed and approved the work. As a result, all co-authors have met and decided that the best option for the paper is to have it withdrawn from Food Chemistry.

Four of the six researchers are at the U.S. FDA. However, one, Indika Edirisinghe, is at Illinois Institute of Technology. We’ve written about him twice before, both times for retractions due to problematic data.

Edirishghe doesn’t seem to be involved in the cranberry screw-up. Instead, it appears to be first author Artemio Tulio who submitted the paper without informing his co-authors. Author Britt Burton-Freeman gave us some information:

The retraction was due to the fact that ALL co-authors (both FDA and IIT co-authors) were unaware of the submitted manuscript to Food Chemistry and therefore none of the co-authors or our respective organizations reviewed or approved the content. The retraction notice is a bit vague at present; however, you should see a letter to the editor published soon explicitly stating the facts of the issue, so that it is clear to inquirers like yourself.

There are 5 co-authors and they include everyone except the first/corresponding author.

The cranberry paper was published in February 2014, and retracted in July.

We await the forthcoming letter to the editor, which we hope will tell us exactly what happened.

Hat tip: Marco van de Weert

10 thoughts on “Paper on cranberries’ health benefits retracted after researcher forges authors’ names”

  1. “Consequently, neither those co-authors nor their supervisors reviewed and approved the work.”

    Just out of curiosity, why does it matter to the journal whether anyone’s supervisor reviewed the work?

    1. It is not unusual for a federal agency, particularly a regulatory agency like FDA, to require that papers submitted by employees be reviewed by their supervisors, since they may reflect on the position of the agency and its regulations.

  2. I am used to journals that expect the corresponding author to provide e-mail addresses for the co-authors, so they can be informed about progress with publication. I suppose there is nothing to stop an author from creating spurious e-addresses so that messages to the co-authors never reach them.

  3. Sounds like a bit of overkill! Why not simply remove the ‘absentee’ co-authors’ names and provide a mea culpa? It is a waste of taxpayer money to retract an otherwise sound paper.

    1. ow do the other authors know the data or the representation of the data is sound if they never saw the paper? It is a waste of tax payers money to submit the paper without all authors approving and it is a required action to correct this

  4. The authors appear to mostly be FDA employees. Speaking as a fellow federal employee from a different agency, all our articles have to go through an official clearance process before we are allowed to submit them to a journal. So the journal may not care about this, but a government employee can get in a lot of trouble for submitting something to a journal that hasn’t been cleared by the agency. I imagine the FDA employees on the paper were pretty alarmed to see their names on something that hadn’t gone through clearance and are hastening to distance themselves from the paper.

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