Neuroscientist in Serbia set to notch 7th retraction amid investigation

Lidija Radenović

Amidst an ongoing investigation by the University of Belgrade in Serbia into allegations of duplication by neurobiologist Lidija Radenović, a journal is planning to retract another one of her papers.

Radenović has already racked up six retractions; Elinor Ben-Menachem, the chief editor of the journal, Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, confirmed her journal is planning to retract one paper co-authored by Radenović, but did not specify which one. After digging around on the journal’s website, we found only one paper co-authored by Radenović, which was 2005 study about the molecular changes that follow stroke. 

Ben-Menachem, who is based the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, said the retraction note for the paper is “not ready” yet, and declined to comment on the case in more detail, including the reason for retraction.

The 2005 paper, “Dynamics of cytochrome c oxidase activity in acute ischemic stroke,” has been cited once, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

The International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience has also confirmed that the journal plans to issue an erratum for another of Radenović’s papers. The editor-in-chief of the journal, Regino Perez-Polo from the University of Texas at Galveston, told us: 

After an investigation, it was decided a simple erratum will suffice.

When asked about the specifics of the correction, he added:

I am awaiting a response from Elsevier

As soon as I get it all sorted out, I will let you know

Spatial and temporal patterns of oxidative stress in the brain of gerbils submitted to different duration of global cerebral ischemia” has only been cited once.

The retraction and erratum come as part of a backstory of alleged cases of misconduct by Radenović. We previously reported on six retractions of Radenović’s papers as part of a mass clean-up by the Archives of Biological Sciences, the official journal of the Serbian Biological Society, where Radenović served as vice president until July 2014.

Željko Tomanović, dean of the faculty of biology at the University of Belgrade, confirmed what was reported in this 2015 Serbian news story — that Radenović has been under investigation for alleged cases of plagiarism at the University of Belgrade.

Tomanović told us that he and former Dean Prof. Jelena Knezevic-Vukcevic were alerted to “multiple cases of auto plagiarism” by Radenović — meaning, Tomanović, publishing the same data in different journals. They organized a Committee to discuss the problem with Radenović; the committee determined that the “cases of auto plagiarism are very clear in our opinion.” They submitted a report with explanations to Professional Ethics Committee at the University of Belgrade. 

But the ethics committee’s procedure was strenuous, Tomanović explained, and after almost two and a half years it has still not reached a final decision. 

We urged several times [the] University authorities, but [are] still without success… I do not know about reasons for this tardiness…

In March 2015, a group of concerned researchers wrote letters to several journals highlighting concerns with papers authored by Radenović (including the six that have since been retracted by Archives of Biological Sciences). You can access a document listing the letters here.

Ivana Bjelobaba, co-author of the letters, who is based the University of Belgrade and also a visiting fellow at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland, told us:

Existence of certain irregularities concerning Lidija Radenović[’s] work was a common knowledge for quite some time. Although it was pointed to this occasionally, the case was never investigated by the Faculty of Biology. I was first asked to give an opinion about some micrographs in Acta Hungarica and Archives [of Biological Sciences] in the summer of 2014. At first I was intrigued, but the full scale of it surprised us all. My colleagues employed at the Faculty of Biology felt obliged to talk to the Dean first and then notify the Journals.

We also reached out to the other journals that Bjelobaba and her co-authors sent letters to. 

Michael Hendrick, editor-in-chief of Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology – Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, was one of the editors who replied about one of Radenović’s papers. He said:

No one has contacted me about this paper or provided any information that would warrant a retraction.

Rada Ozrina of the Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia, who edits Biochemistry (Moscow), another of the journals sent a letter regarding a paper co-authored by Radenović, also responded:

Sorry but we did not retract this publication yet! It’s a very complicated and long procedure. I understand that it’s bad, but I didn’t have time to do it.

We’ve contacted Radenović and will update the post if we hear back. Her lawyer declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

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