Editors at BioMed Central have taken the unusual step of updating a retraction notice after an investigation found the authors were not responsible for a peer review process gone awry. The paper is one of dozens of other papers retracted in March for fake peer reviews.
That month, the paper “Clinical application of contrast enhanced ultrasound to diagnose benign prostatic hyperplasia” in Diagnostic Pathology was among the 43 papers retracted due to fake peer reviews. (Retractions for the phenomenon — more about it in our Nature feature here — are up to about 170.)
According to the update posted in July, an investigation into the paper by the Jiading Central Hospital in Shanghai, where the authors work, found that they “did not participate in influencing the peer review process.”
Here’s more from the update to the notice:
BioMed Central has been informed of the outcome of a thorough investigation by the institution. That investigation found that the authors of this article  intended to purchase language editing services for their manuscript only and did not participate in influencing the peer review process. The institution has taken further steps to educate their researchers regarding best practice in research and publication ethics.
The journal doesn’t often add updates to retraction notices, Shane Canning, the media manager at BioMed Central, told us:
While it is not common practice to update a retraction notice it is not unprecedented.
We contacted the “Research Division” of Jiading Center Hospital via an email provided to us by Canning. They declined to provide a copy of the report:
Sorry, We only have responsibility to explain the investigation to Biomed Central. So, We are afraid not to provide the report to you.
The Publisher and Editor regretfully retract this article  because the peer-review process was inappropriately influenced and compromised. As a result, the scientific integrity of the article cannot be guaranteed. A systematic and detailed investigation suggests that a third party was involved in supplying fabricated details of potential peer reviewers for a large number of manuscripts submitted to different journals. In accordance with recommendations from COPE we have retracted all affected published articles, including this one. It was not possible to determine beyond doubt that the authors of this particular article were aware of any third party attempts to manipulate peer review of their manuscript.
The paper has not been cited, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.