“All co-authors are honorary:” Team earns fifth retraction

Movement DisordersA team of researchers from Japan has earned a fifth retraction, after co-authors told the journal that they did not participate in much of the paper.

Yoshihiro Sato, listed at Mitate Hospital, is the only author of the paper who was not “honorary,” the managing editor of the journal confirmed. He and the same co-authors recently lost three other papers about preventing hip fractures for “concerns regarding data integrity” and authorship issues — one of those papers, published in JAMA, specified that Sato was responsible for the data. All four authors were also included in a retraction last year of a paper with “concerns about the underlying data;” there, too, Sato said his co-authors were named “for honorary reasons.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “Alendronate and vitamin D2 for prevention of hip fracture in Parkinson’s disease: A randomized controlled trial,” published in Movement Disorders:

The above article, published online on 14 March 2006 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), and in Volume 21, Issue 7, Pages 924–929, has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the Editor-in-Chief, Jose A. Obeso, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The retraction has been agreed due to an acknowledgement from the authors that the co-authors did not participate in study design, data collection, data analysis, interpretation of data and drafting the manuscript. Thus all co-authors are honorary.

The 2006 paper has been cited 33 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

Julie Nash, the managing editor of the journal, told us:

The International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society received the request for the retraction of the article directly from Dr. Sato in March 2016. Dr. Sato requested that the paper be retracted on the basis of scientific misconduct.  He stated that this was due to a misrepresentation of the work of the co-authors on the paper. After conferring with the publisher, the Movement Disorders editorial staff independently contacted all authors listed on the paper regarding the retraction.  Each author confirmed in writing that their authorship was purely honorary and supported the basis of retraction.

Those honorary authors are Jun Iwamoto at the Keio University School of Medicine, and  Tomohiro Kanoko and Kei Satoh, both at the Hirosaki University School of Medicine.

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4 thoughts on ““All co-authors are honorary:” Team earns fifth retraction”

  1. I don’t get it. If none of the authors did much, then where did all the data come from (i.e., does this extend beyond honorary authorship to fictitious data)?

  2. After conferring with the publisher, the Movement Disorders editorial staff independently contacted all authors listed on the paper regarding the retraction.

    Had they been contacted before publication? No-one seems to be complaining that they were listed as authors without their knowledge.

  3. So, there is some sort of honorary authorship racket going on? There are quite a lot of other trials by this team in Medline. Are more retractions likely? Are the Universities involved investigating?

    Shannon, how does the linked JAMA retraction notice score on transparency? It gives readers almost no information at all. I’m not sure how less helpful a retraction notice could be.

    It seems there are lots of questions about this team but not many answers so far.

  4. This ‘honorary’ or ghost authorship happens *all the time*, post-docs and PhD students are forever being pressured to put other people on their papers because those people are more important than them.

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