Gynecologic cancer researcher earns eighth retraction

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 5.50.31 PMNoriyuki Takai, a gynecologic cancer researcher in Japan, has notched one more retraction — bringing the total to eight — due to figures that were “processed inappropriately” and did “not accurately report the original data.”

According to the notice, Takai alone put the figures together in the 2006 Oncology paper, which tested a histone deacetylase inhibitor on endometrial and ovarian cancer cell lines. The team is part of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Oita University in Japan.

Takai lost four papers in 2013 in Cancer Letters, and three papers in 2012 in Gynecologic Oncology, also due to issues with figures.

Here’s the notice for “CBHA is a family of hybrid polar compounds that inhibit histone deacetylase, and induces growth inhibition, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in human endometrial and ovarian cancer cells”:

We have identified errors affecting several figure panels in which original data were processed inappropriately by the corresponding author (N.T.) such that the figure panels do not accurately report the original data. The other authors were not involved in making these figures. We believe that the most responsible course of action is the retract this paper. We sincerely apologize to the scientific community for any inconvenience that this may cause.

The note is signed by all the authors. It appears to borrow a phrase (in bold) from the note included with the three 2012 retractions in Gynecologic Oncology:

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief and Author.

The corresponding author reused, without permission, figures in this manuscript that had been previously published. In addition the corresponding author identified errors affecting several figure panels in which original data were processed inappropriately by the corresponding author such that the figure panels do not accurately report the original data. As such this constitutes a breach of publishing ethics and the corresponding author apologizes to the scientific community for this oversight and any inconvenience caused.

A few other of Takai’s papers have also received comments on PubPeer.

We’ve reached out to both Takai and a few other authors, as well as the editor, and will update if we hear back. The Oncology paper has been cited 11 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Hat tip Rolf Degen

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One thought on “Gynecologic cancer researcher earns eighth retraction”

  1. As the commenters at PubPeer point out, two papers in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine and one in Oncology Reports appear to use copies of the same GAPDH and p21 blots in figure images.

    ONCOLOGY REPORTS 19: 749-753, 2008 Figure 5
    INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR MEDICINE 21: 109-115, 2008 Figures 4a and 4b
    INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR MEDICINE 21: 637-643, 2008 Figure 6

    These are all journals from the publisher Spandidos Publications.

    We will find out how long it takes that publisher to start cleaning up those papers.

    The Spandidos Publications editorial policy page states

    “Author’s responsibilities

    Corrections and retractions

    Authors are obliged to notify the relevant journal Editor if they find that a published manuscript contains an error, plagiarism or fraudulent data. The journal will publish a correction, retraction or notice of concern at the earliest possible date: authors are encouraged to contact the journal Editor to discuss the most appropriate course of action.”

    Why an author who feels comfortable reusing images repeatedly would want to self-report their “plagiarism” (self-plagiarism) or “fraudulent data” escapes me. The editors of Spandidos Publications should be more pro-active about vetting problematic publications.

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