Caught Our Notice: Researcher who once threatened to sue Retraction Watch now up to 19 retractions

Title: Curcumin-Free Turmeric Exhibits Activity against Human HCT-116 Colon Tumor Xenograft: Comparison with Curcumin and Whole Turmeric

What Caught Our Attention: We haven’t heard much about Bharat Aggarwal since his seven retractions in 2016 propelled him onto our leaderboard (and long after he threatened to sue Retraction Watch for our reporting). There was a whisper of a mention, when his name was listed as one of the organizers of a cancer conference from which MD Anderson (his former employer) had to publicly distance themselves as a co-sponsor.

The vast majority of retractions and corrections for Aggarwal were for image issues such as duplication and manipulation. This month, however, brings Aggarwal’s 19th retraction, this time for questions concerning “the scientific validity of the article.” It’s unclear what the issues are, but commenters at PubPeer give a few hints: One suggested a duplication problem in image 5. Another noted a that the editor of the journal, Gautam Sethi, has been an Aggarwal coauthor.  

Indeed, our database shows Sethi and Aggarwal to be coauthors on two retractions and 2 corrections.

Journal: Frontiers in Pharmacology

Authors: Sahdeo Prasad, Amit K. Tyagi, Zahid H. Siddik, Bharat B. Aggarwal

Affiliations: University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, TX, USA

The Notice:

Following publication, concerns were raised regarding the scientific validity of the article. An investigation was therefore conducted in accordance with our established procedures. Following provision of raw data by the authors, the Chief Editor concluded that aspects of the paper’s conclusions and assertions were not sufficiently supported by the findings from the material provided. Namely that inconsistencies in experimental rigour preclude confirmation of the conclusion of the article.

The retraction of the article was approved by the Chief Editors of Pharmacology and the Editor-in-Chief of Frontiers.

The authors agree to the retraction.

Date of Article: December 2017

Times Cited, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science: Zero

Date of Notice: April 6, 2018

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4 thoughts on “Caught Our Notice: Researcher who once threatened to sue Retraction Watch now up to 19 retractions”

  1. I have noticed that since Retraction Watch returned from its extended outage/hiatus, the site has been publishing fewer ‘cold hard facts’ paragraphs in its articles and more pargraphs that I would classify as ‘colour commentary’, even extending into allowing opinionating to infect the headlines. This headline for example is not an objectively factual one but rather an exercise in score-settling. The topics of the papers that are retracted is the most valuable information here, and it was omitted from the headline in favour of site-subjective point scoring. This approach greatly diminishes the value of the site and greatly reduces the chance that I will click through to any articl3 because the only reason I would click through to a retraction notice is if the subject matter of the research being retracted is relevant to my own topics of research. I would like to politely request that the editors here consider reprioritising on substance over style by making sure that the TOPIC of each retracted paper is front & centre, and included in the headline wherever possible.

  2. The title of the paper is below the headline on the front page and doesn’t require you to read the full post, so you should have been able to tell if it’s relevant to your field.

    Personally, I find it more of interest that someone has 19 retractions and is interested in threatening to sue blogs. If it was directly relevant to my field, I would hope that I would know about it through other channels.

  3. This headline for example is not an objectively factual one but rather an exercise in score-settling. The topics of the papers that are retracted is the most valuable information here, and it was omitted from the headline in favour of site-subjective point scoring.

    But isn’t the “Leaderboard” feature of RW another example of the kind of “colour commentary” you dislike? Reducing (or elevating) the clinical dissection of certain retractions into a kind of horse-race reportage. And this feature has been present for as long as I’ve been reading the site.

    There are umpteen papers retracted every week (maybe every day). Some are singled out to become the subjects of RW posts… perhaps they exemplify recurring themes, perhaps they are sequels to previous posts, part of an unfolding narrative. You could call this “score-settling” if you like, but it seems legitimate to me. Many people who read the previous installments will be interested in this update.

    How much time should Alison Abritis have spent, reading the now-retracted paper, so as to sum up the authors’ claims (“the topics of the paper”)? To my mind, not a lot, especially since the journal’s editors consider that those claims weren’t supported by the data.

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