‘Misconduct on a grand and terrible scale’: Dental scientist up to 26 retractions

Jose Luis Calvo-Guirado

A dentistry researcher in Spain with a history of reusing and manipulating images has notched two more retractions, giving him 26. 

The new retractions move Jose´ Luis Calvo-Guirado, of Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia, into a tie for 24th place on the Retraction Watch leaderboard

Calvo-Guirado has in the past disputed the retractions of his research. And at least one of his co-authors, Georgios Romanos, of the State University of New York Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine, speculated that Calvo-Guirado was reusing images to limit the number of lab animals that would need to be sacrificed in his studies.

The latest retractions involve two papers in Annals of Anatomy, an Elsevier publication, including the 2018 article “A new procedure for processing extracted teeth for immediate grafting in post-extraction sockets. An experimental study in American Fox Hound dogs.” According to the notice, the paper contained manipulated images that were reused in subsequently retracted articles:  

This article has been retracted at the request of the Editor-in-Chief.

Figures published in this article were not only used several times without citation in two subsequent other studies published in journal Dent. J. 2018, 6, 12; doi:10.3390/dj6020012 and in journal Appl. Sci. 2020, 10, 3006; doi:10.3390/app10093006 which have now been retracted, but the images were also manipulated and used for different results. As an example, see Fig. 4 and Fig. 7 from the Annals of Anatomy. Fig 4 was demonstrated as SEM “Image of bone formation inside a socket filled with MP3 modified with pamidronate at 4 weeks”. The legend of Fig. 7 shows the image as “SEM Image of bone formation inside a socket filled with MP3 modified with pamidronate at 8 weeks”. However, Fig. 7 is only a higher magnification of Fig. 4. If you enlarge Fig. 4 to the same ratio as Fig. 7, you will quickly find the place in Fig. 4 from which Fig. 7 was copied (see below). The manuscript contains a number of other manipulations as well as some absolutely identical text passages with the other two manuscripts mentioned.

Although this article was published earlier than the other articles, the Editor decided to retract this article given concerns about the reliability of the data.

Calvo-Guirado also is losing “Scanning electron microscopy study of new bone formation following small and large defects preserved with xenografts supplemented with pamidronate. A pilot study in Fox-Hound dogs at 4 and 8 weeks,” from 2017. The notice for that article reads: 

Figures published in this article were partly manipulated and re-used without appropriately citing the previously published articles Journal of Oral Science & Rehabilitation 2015, 16, 1, 16–25 and Clin. Oral Impl. Res. 27, 2016, 149–155, https://doi.org/10.1111/clr.12550

One of the conditions of submission of a paper for publication is that authors declare explicitly that their work is original and has not appeared in a publication elsewhere. Re-use of any data should be appropriately cited. As such this article represents a severe abuse of the scientific publishing system. The scientific community takes a very strong view on this matter and apologies are offered to readers of the journal that this was not detected during the submission process.

Calvo-Guirado did not respond to a request for comment. 

Friedrich Paulsen, the editor-in-chief of the journal, told us that the inquiry began with “anonymous tips” about the work: 

Intensive research then revealed that much more had been done to the two manuscripts than we had been told. When we ourselves found clear indications of scientific misconduct and saw on the internet that various manuscripts of the Calvo-Guirado working group had already been withdrawn, we also pulled the emergency brake, as this is scientific misconduct on a grand and terrible scale. 

Paulsen said the journal offered Calvo-Guirado the chance to retract the articles himself, but he declined. 

Meanwhile, the problems may not be limited to Calvo-Guirado. Paulsen said his journal is investigating another paper by one of Calvo-Guirado’s co-authors: 

I can only say that I was relatively shocked by the audacity of how this was manipulated and also how everything was denied. This is bad for the whole branch of science in which Dr Calvo-Guirado works.

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