Biochem journal retracts paper for “striking level of similarity” with another

Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry CoverA biochemistry journal has pulled a paper after deciding that its layout and content overlapped significantly with a previously published paper.

The researcher who reported the similarity to Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry has sent us his correspondence with the journal. After a “thorough investigation,” the journal felt the paper was worth retracting.

Here’s the retraction notice for “TNF receptor-associated factor 6 regulates proliferation, apoptosis, and invasion of glioma cells:”

The Editor-in-Chief retracts this article as per the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) guidelines on plagiarism. After a thorough investigation, it was found that there is a striking level of similarity in the layout and content of this paper with another publication (Tumor Biology (2013) 34:231–239; doi:10.1007/s13277-012-0543-8). It is also pointed out that the authors have failed to respond to these similarity issues, first brought to their attention in 2015.

The 2013 paper has been cited 12 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

The 2012 paper it allegedly overlaps with, “Effect of TRAF6 on the biological behavior of human lung adenocarcinoma cell,” has gained nine citations times since publication.

Nathaniel Magilnick, a graduate student at the City of Hope research center in Duarte, California, alerted the journal to the overlap. He shared his letter to the journal with us, which reads:

While reading these two manuscripts, we were quite surprised by the striking level of similarity in the layout and content of the two publications, given the fact that they do not seem to share a single common author. In a lot of aspects these two papers look just like carbon copies, but focus on the role of TRAF6 gene in two different biological settings.

The letter goes on:

More disturbingly, we noticed what seems to be a duplicated and manipulated figure panel that is used in both publications. In Zhong et al. this actin normalization panel can be found in Fig. 6a of the manuscript, while in Peng et al. it can be found rotated 1800 in Fig. 7I (see below). We base  our conclusion of image manipulation solely on the visual appearance of the two panels and cannot exclude a possibility that our assumptions are unfounded.  

We’ve reached out to the editor-in-chiefs of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry and Tumour BiologyNaranjan S. Dhalla, a cardiologist at St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg, Canada and Torgny Stigbrand, professor emeritus at Umeå University in Sweden, respectively.

We’ve also contacted the corresponding author Zhang Peng, who is based at Xinxiang Medical University in Henan, China. We’ll update the post with anything else we learn.

Like Retraction Watch? Consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support our growth. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, add us to your RSS reader, sign up on our homepage for an email every time there’s a new post, or subscribe to our new daily digest. Click here to review our Comments Policy. For a sneak peek at what we’re working on, click here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.