We’ve seen many cases of researchers creating fake email addresses to impersonate reviewers that usher their paper to publication.
But in the latest fake email incident, a journal is retracting a paper on liver cancer after the first author created a phony address for the last and corresponding author. Both are researchers at Zhengzhou University in China.
This isn’t the first time that an author has worked around the corresponding author: there’s a case from a few years ago in which the corresponding author didn’t know that the paper was being published at all. Recently, we also wrote about a doctor who was suspended in the UK after submitting papers without her co-authors’ knowledge, including creating a fake email for one of them.
This latest paper had another problem, too: plagiarism. Here’s the retraction note for “The influence of TLR4 agonist lipopolysaccharides on hepatocellular carcinoma cells and the feasibility of its application in treating liver cancer,” published in OncoTargets and Therapy:
The first author (Junsheng Gu) created an email address for Dr Yu without permission and used figures from a previously published paper: Lin A, Wang G, Zhao H, et al. TLR4 signaling promotes a COX-2/PGE2/STAT3 positive feedback loop in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cells. OncoImmunology. 2015: DOI:10.1080/2162402X.
This was done without the knowledge, involvement, or permission of Dr Yu.
The retracted paper and the paper from which the figures were taken do not share any authors.
Interestingly, at the top of the original paper, there is a box that explicitly says:
Checked for plagiarism Yes
The paper has not been cited, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.
We contacted the email listed for Zujiang Yu on the paper, and received an error message. We reached out to another email address we found for Yu on another paper. We’ve also contacted to Daniele Santini, the OncoTargets editor who approved the publication. We’ll update this post with anything else we learn.
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