The paper was published in March, 2015 — the same month publisher BioMed Central (BMC) pulled 43 papers for fake reviews.
According to the retraction notice in the European Journal of Medical Research, the authors’ institution in China informed the publisher that the authors had used a third party to help with copyediting and submission to the journal, raising concerns about the authorship of the paper.
Here’s the retraction notice, published in August:
The Publisher and Editor are retracting this article  because the authorship of the article cannot be confirmed and the peer review process was compromised. As a result, the scientific integrity of the article cannot be guaranteed. The institution has informed BioMed Central that the authors involved a third party to assist with copyediting and submission to the journal. Fanzhen Meng did not respond to our correspondence about this retraction. All other authors support the retraction of this article.
The study “Meta-analysis of the associations between TNF-α or IL-6 gene polymorphisms and susceptibility to lung cancer” has been cited twice (once by its retraction notice), according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, formerly part of Thomson Reuters.
We contacted the journal’s editors-in-chief to learn more about how the journal discovered the problems with the paper, who forwarded our query to BMC; a spokesperson referred us to the retraction notice, and the authors.
We’ve contacted Zhou Wei, the study’s first author, who is based at Ningxia Medical University in Yinchuan, China.
BMC has been in the news lately: This week, the publisher announced it was retracting another 28 articles for a host of problems, including authorship problems and fake reviews. In that latest batch of retractions, most of the authors are based at institutions in Iran.
We’ve counted a total of more than 300 papers retracted for faked, rigged, or compromised peer review. Here’s our 2014 Nature feature on the subject if you need a bit more background. This is also one of many studies that we’ve seen pulled due to the actions of a third party; here’s a column our co-founders wrote for STAT regarding one such case.
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