Last week, users alleged on Twitter that three papers by the same team included pictures of cells that were copied and pasted. First author Nima Samie, affiliated with University of Malaya in Malaysia, denied the accusations — but both the Malaysian government and now two journals sees cause for further investigation.
Frontiers in Pharmacology published an expression of concern this morning:
With this notice, Frontiers states its awareness of serious allegations surrounding the article “Mechanism of Action of the Novel Nickel(II) Complex in Simultaneous Reactivation of the Apoptotic Signaling Networks Against Human Colon Cancer Cells” published on 28 January 2016. Our Chief Editors, Prof. Theophile Godfraind and Prof. Olivier Feron, will direct an investigation in full accordance with our procedures. The situation will be updated as soon as the investigation is complete.
The Star Online reported today that Malaysia’s Higher Education Ministry will also investigate allegations of falsified data:
According to its minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, he will personally look into the matter following wide-ranging postings on social media that questioned the integrity of the researchers, whose paper underwent three rounds of peer reviews.
“We do not compromise on such matters, and we’ll make sure action will be taken against them because we have to uphold the integrity of our education system,” he said on the sidelines of a memorandum signing ceremony between Sunway TES Centre for Accountancy Excellence, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), and the ministry’s Polytechnic Education Department here yesterday.
Elisabeth Bik, a microbiologist at Stanford, and author of a study on instances of image duplication told us last week that the three papers containing the images “should not have passed peer review.” She posted a comment on the Frontiers paper this morning, linking to her concerns on PubPeer. She wrote in the comment:
I am hoping that the Frontiers in Pharmacology will take an immediate and serious look at the many problems that appear to be present in this paper.