Otolaryngology researchers in China have lost their 2018 paper in the American Journal of Translational Research for what they’re calling (with some degree of chutzpah) language barriers.
The article, “Therapeutic ultrasound potentiates the anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin to postoperative pain via Sirt1/NF-κB signaling pathway,” came from group whose primary affiliation was the Second Military Medical University in Shanghai. (It hasn’t been cited, according to Clarivate’s Web of Science.) However, the list of authors also included several scientists in Germany.
Evidently, the Germans were most unzufrieden.
According to the retraction notice:
Due to the obstacles in the language communication between Chinese and German, we included the names of Drs. Robert Mlynski, Stefan Plontke and Haibin Liu as the co-authors of this paper without their permission. We have realized that this is a very inappropriate practice and a serious scientific fraud after some colleagues pointed this out to us. Therefore, we would like to retract this paper completely. We sincerely apologize to Drs. Haibin Liu, Robert Mlynski and Stefan Plontke for our fault and the inconvenience and potential damages to their reputation.
We also sincerely apologize for cheating reviewers and editors by creating faked E-mail accounts of these three “coauthors” and all inconveniences that might have resulted from our faults.
Although this notice pretends at transparency, it’s a mess that underscores why authors should never be allowed to write retraction statements in cases of misconduct.
The authors copped to forging email addresses of co-authors who weren’t involved in the research … so why did the journal allow them to claim the problem boiled down to “obstacles in … language communication”?
They also admit that what they did amounted to “serious scientific fraud” … but claim that they didn’t have that epiphany until “some colleagues pointed this out to us” … after they created fake email addresses.
We asked the editor of the journal, Wen-Hwa Lee, of UC Irvine, for some clarity here but haven’t heard back. We also emailed Mlynski and Plontke but have yet to receive a reply.
Hat tip: Rolf Degen
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