Five journals published by a prominent cancer research society have retracted a total of 10 papers — most of them by a former researcher at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.
Nine of the 10 retractions share that researcher, Bharat Aggarwal, as an author. Aggarwal — who more than five years ago threatened to sue us for reporting on an investigation into his work — is now up to 28 retractions, and has left his post at MD Anderson. The AACR is also appending an editor’s note to eight of his other papers — but it has not explained the reason for what it acknowledges is a lag in moving on these articles.
“Unfortunately, we have been delayed in correcting the published record, and for this we apologize,” writes the publisher of The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Christine Rullo, in a note in this month’s issue of Cancer Research. Rullo doesn’t say how long the journals took to handle the retractions.
The articles by Aggarwal and colleagues date as far back as 2006, and have been cited from 26 to 167 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science. They concern various basic science aspects of cancer, including the study of “natural products” such as curcumin.
The tenth retraction includes authors Nivedita Sain, of The Institute for Cancer Research (ICR) in Surrey, UK, and Paul Workman, who is president of the ICR. Both also co-authored a paper in Cancer Chemotherapy and Pharmacology — not an AACR journal — that was corrected in January.
Not an isolated case
We recently wrote about long delays at Cancer Research involving another researcher, Anil Jaiswal. In that case, after nearly two years, some articles that the University of Maryland at Baltimore, Jaiswal’s former employer, had requested be retracted, still weren’t.
In her publisher’s note today, Rullo wrote:
We have significantly improved our procedures and processes so that, going forward, we can make these corrections to the published record in a more timely manner. It will take several months to publish various types of corrections related to a number of older cases on which we are working.
We’ve asked Rullo what led to the delays on the papers retracted today, and will update with anything we learn.
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