“Obviously stolen” figure squashes mosquito paper in author’s second retraction

jmr-cover2015The Journal of Mosquito Research has retracted a paper because it contains a figure that “was obviously stolen” from another paper.

The retracted paper’s first author Emtithal M. Abd El-Samiee is now up to two retractions, by our count. Last month, we reported on her fruit fly paper, felled by a faulty gene sequence. On the paper, she is listed as an entomologist at Cairo University.

The note tells us where the figure was stolen from:

The paper [Cloning and Expression of the Recombinant Transferrin Protein from Culex quinquefasciatus Say (Diptera: Culicidae) and Study of Its Antimicrobial Activity, doi: 10.5376/jmr.2013.03.0004] published in Journal of Mosquito Research has been retracted, because, a Figure of that paper was obviously stolen from the paper published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry (http://www.jbc.org/content/278/10/8745.long), and combining with other evidences, we believe that this paper was falsified.

The editorial committee of BioPublisher strictly protests to the authors that the above paper had been submitted against the rules of this journal policy. Thus, this article has been totally deleted from this journal.

Yes, against the guidelines of the Committee on Publication Ethics, the journal has removed the paper entirely (although it can still be found here). It shares no authors with the JBC paper.

The figure in question seems to be Figure 6A in the JBC paper:

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 11.10.50 AM

Purification of recombinant Mms6 produced in E. coli. A, profile of the purified protein stained with Coomassie Brilliant Blue R-250;B, Western blot stained with anti-His antibody. Lane M, molecular mass markers; lanes 1 and 2,E. coli cell lysate before and after isopropyl-1-thio-β-D-galactopyranoside induction, respectively; lane 3, purified His-tagged Mms6; lane 4, thrombin-digested His-tagged Mms6.

Here is what appears to be the same image, in Figure 8 in the retracted paper:

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 11.09.17 AM

Coomassie blue stained SDS-PAGE of protein extract from transformed BL21 cells harboring Tsf/pET-28a construct. Note: The arrow points to Tsf pure recombinant protein band. Lane M, protein molecular weight marker; Lane 1, uninducted cells; Lane 2, cells induced with 1 mM IPTG at 37 ℃; Lane 3, Purified Tsf recombinant protein.

BioPublisher is not listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

In an email  to a concerned reader who noticed issues with the paper (which we are excerpting with permission), publishing manager Green S. Lee explains how the journal failed to catch the figure theft prior to publication:

…we did plagiarism test and found no sign of [misconduct], and like other manuscripts this one also has been peer reviewed and approved by the peer reviewers.

In an email sent to the journal prior to the retraction, and included in the chain of emails between Lee and the concerned reader, corresponding author Heba M. Hamama expressed concern over the figure and suggested a correction to the article:

The authors of this article wish to remove one of the figures published in this paper , namely figure(8) as the results were analysed in a scientific research lab, and we discovered by chance that this figure is not the one corresponding to our results, although it did not show any unexpected results. The person in the lab corresponding for this fatal mistake was fired and we found that it is ethically not to say that this figure is the one we got from results. So, if you can please remove it and refer to the text on the following part as (Data not shown) instead of (Fig.8)

But eventually, Lee told the concerned reader the journal had decided to publish a formal retraction statement.

We reached out to Lee — for permission to quote his emails, and for a statement — who said:

You are free to share this retraction with readers and yes, you can quote from the emails below. Our journal is transparent.

We reached out to Abd El-Samiee, and to Hamama. We will update this post if we hear back.

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