Dental journal pulls a dozen papers for recycled images and “unreliable data”

A leading orthodontics journal has retracted 12 papers after determining that they contained either reused images, questionable data or both. Several of the articles involved experiments conducted in dogs — and one person familiar with the case told us that the duplication was an attempt to avoid sacrificing more animals than necessary for the research.  

Although the list of authors on the articles varies, the common denominator is Jose Luis Calvo-Guirado, of the UCAM Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia, in Spain. Calvo-Guirado’s title at the institution is director de la Cátedra Internacional de Investigación en Odontología, which Google translates as director of the International Research Chair in Dentistry.  Calvo-Guirado also holds (or has held) a research professorship at SUNY Stony Brook in the Department of Prosthodontics and Digital Medicine, according to his CV.

Calvo-Guirado’s name is on at least 187 entries in PubMed. Of those, 40 appeared in Clinical Oral Implants Research, a Wiley title on whose editorial board the researcher served, according to his CV.  

Starting on May 2, the journal began retracting papers by Calvo-Guirado. Here’s the retraction notice for “Bone remodelling after regenerative procedures around implants placed in fresh extraction sockets: an experimental study in Beagle dogs,” which the journal published in 2011:

The above article, published online on 20 January 2011 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), and in Volume 22, pp. 1131–1137, has been retracted by agreement between the journal Editor in Chief, L Heitz-Mayfield, and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The retraction has been agreed due to image discrepancies, resulting in unreliable data. Images in Figures 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 and 11 have been used in publications representing different time points and experimental conditions.

And here’s the notice for “Influence of the implant design on osseointegration and crestal bone resorption of immediate implants: a histomorphometric study in dogs:”

The above article, published online on 26 March 2014 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), and in Volume 26, pp. 876–881, has been retracted by agreement between the journal Editor in Chief, L Heitz-Mayfield, and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The retraction has been agreed due to numerical discrepancies in Tables 1–4, resulting in unreliable data.

Calvo-Guirado told us in an email that he disagreed with the retractions:

The retractions comes from the new Editor in Chief changed two years ago, and she questioned my research for many years, many money invested and so much time with students to do it

All I think is political prosecution in order to destroy my Integrity as a good researcher.

He also sent us a document with what he said were examples of similar research behavior by other authors that he “denounced” to the journal but which the publication has ignored.

We emailed Heitz-Mayfield for comment but have yet to hear back.

Calvo-Guirado’s retracted papers have received a modest number of citations, ranging from a couple to 30, for “Bone remodelling after regenerative procedures around implants placed in fresh extraction sockets: an experimental study in Beagle dogs,” according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

Most of his co-authors are based outside the United States, but one is Georgios Romanos, the associate dean of the SUNY Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine.

Romanos said he was

A little unhappy about the whole procedure

which he learned about more than a year ago. He described the journal’s move as part of “an attack” against Calvo-Guirado, and he agreed with his Spanish colleague that other researchers, including leading names in the field internationally, have done similar things without censure.

Although Romanos agreed that misrepresenting the source of data is unethical, he said he believed Calvo-Guirado’s intention was not self-serving. Instead, he said Calvo-Guirado was trying to avoid having to kill more lab animals than necessary.

On this aspect I think he’s right.

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