According to the retraction notice, the Journal of Cellular Physiology retracted the paper after the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center found that last author Jin Wang had omitted two researchers from the list of authors, and had also failed to acknowledge funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).
But Wang tells a different story.
Wang, who worked at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston until 2015 but now runs his own lab at Fudan University in Shanghai, told us that he wrote the paper by himself and only asked his former mentor at MD Anderson, Subrata Sen, for English language edits. Wang also said that the research was not funded by the NIH and that one researcher mentioned in the notice, Ann Killary, played no role in the work and thus should not have been an author.
The above article from the Journal of Cellular Physiology, published online on 10 March 2016 in Wiley Online Library as Early View (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.1002/jcp.25353/), has been retracted by agreement between Gary Stein, the journal’s Editor-in-Chief, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The retraction has been agreed following an investigation at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, which confirmed that the article was submitted and approved for publication by Dr. Jin Wang without acknowledgement of NIH funding received or the consent and authorship of Dr. Ann Killary and Dr. Subrata Sen, with whom the manuscript was originally drafted.
The paper has not yet been indexed by Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.
Wang explained that he worked as a postdoc in Sen’s lab at MD Anderson for almost seven years, and left the lab around May 2015. Before leaving, Wang said he sent Sen a draft of the paper to edit for language, not content. Wang said he also sent the paper to others for English editing and does not think Sen’s corrections warranted authorship. The paper was received by the journal in February 2016 and published online the following month.
By the way, Dr. Killary had never read this manuscript. We do not understand why and who said she had drafted this manuscript.
The paper’s acknowledgement section does not acknowledge Sen or Killary. It only calls out grant support received from the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission.
We reached out to both Sen and Killary for a response to Wang’s remarks. We also contacted the institution’s provost and compliance officer to ask for a copy of the investigation report. A spokesperson from MD Anderson Cancer Center got back to us with a statement:
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and supports the Journal of Cellular Physiology for retracting the article, “Identification of Novel Biomarkers for Pancreatic Cancer Using Integrated Transcriptomics with Functional Pathways Analysis.
Between 2010 and 2015, Killary and Sen received more than $3.2 million in NIH grants to support their research identifying early biomarkers in pancreatic cancer. Although we do not know for sure whether the funding also covered the research in the Journal of Cellular Physiology paper, the projects focus on similar topics.
Sen was also a middle author on a 2004 Journal of Biological Chemistry paper co-authored by Harvard’s Sam Lee, which was retracted in 2015 after an investigation at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute uncovered data manipulation.
Conflicts over authorship have led to many problems in the literature. For instance, we recently explored how the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) authorship guidelines –– which recommend that any author included on a paper should have made “substantial contributions to the conception or design of the work” — ended a 20-year collaboration.
Hat tip: Kerry Grens
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