“Most responsible course of action is to retract:” Duplicated images fell prostate cancer paper

International Journal of CancerA study on the cellular interactions underlying prostate cancer has been retracted after a whistleblower pointed out duplicated images in one of the paper’s figures that were “erroneously presented as unique.”

The International Journal of Cancer posted the notice in June. The authors backed the paper’s conclusions but agreed, “the most responsible course of action is to retract.”

The notice reads:

The above article, published online on 28 November 2012 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor-in-Chief, Prof. Peter Lichter, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The Retraction has been agreed due to errors that were detected in Fig. 6b. Some images were duplicated and erroneously presented as unique. Although the authors firmly stand by the major conclusion of this paper, they believe the most responsible course of action is to retract it.

The paper, “Cross-talk of alpha tocopherol-associated protein and JNK controls the oxidative stress-induced apoptosis in prostate cancer cells,” was cited eight times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. It was authored by a group from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China and one researcher from the University of Rochester

The same figure was questioned on PubPeer in February.

The journal’s managing editor, Sherryl Sundell, told us that the journal was tipped off by a whistleblower and the authors agreed to the retraction after they were contacted.

For this paper, [we] were contacted by a (non-anonymous) whistleblower concerning the figure. Whether that is the same person who posted the concern on the PubPeer site, I don’t know. We didn’t see that post until the case was already being investigated. After the whistleblower contacted us, we wrote to the authors and presented the evidence. They agreed to retract the paper. As is our standard procedure, we followed [Committee on Publication Ethics] guidelines throughout the process.

We’ve contacted the corresponding author Xingqiao Wen and we’ll update the post with any reply.

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9 thoughts on ““Most responsible course of action is to retract:” Duplicated images fell prostate cancer paper”

  1. Strange – if it was only one figure (6b) and it was due to an error – why not then submit the proper data as a correction? This seems to be a regular practice to correct mistakes.
    Retractions generally only occur when the original data can not be found….

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