High-profile ob-gyn accused of duplicating data threatens to sue critic

Gian Carlo Di Renzo

Sometime last summer, Ben Mol, an obstetrician-gynecology researcher in Australia, and his colleagues were adapting a European guideline on unexplained infertility when they came across a 2006 paper from Maria Luisa Casini, a pharmacologist in Rome, that gave them pause because of results that were not statistically significant. 

When they looked further, they ended in a rabbit hole. Casini’s previous work revealed identical patient data across papers published two years apart, despite purporting to come from different groups of patients. The similarities were striking: In the 2006 paper, the women’s mean height was 165.5 centimeters; in the study published two years earlier that reported having more than triple the number of participants, the women had the exact same mean height, with the same standard deviation. 

The guideline update would eventually lead to half of the included trials being flagged for integrity issues, and as a result, left out of the Australian version of the guideline. From that one  paper by Casini that had initially raised doubts, the team was able to unearth a trail of suspicious data connected to several ob-gyns in Italy. An Italian medical society and one of the implicated authors have threatened to sue over the allegations, claiming the complaints were made to interfere with a high-profile society election, but the papers are now part of a wider Elsevier investigation.

After digging up the first set of suspiciously similar data, the problems seemed to get worse. The team eventually identified a series of nine papers involving several other authors from the University of Perugia – Vittorio Unfer, Sandro Gerli and Gian Carlo Di Renzo – that appeared to have identical data between them. The duplications are “not 100% impossible,” says Mol. But the problem exists in more than just one paper, he says. And the papers have been cited 750 times, according to Clarivate’s Web of Science.

So far, only one of the papers has been retracted after the first author, Gerli, blamed an uncredited student who “unbeknownst to us at the time, adapted the 2003 paper and submitted it as novel work.” Another has an expression of concern that notes the authors are unable “to ascertain whether any similarities are coincidental or otherwise” because they no longer have access to the data. 

Mol has written to the authors of the papers for an explanation and has heard back from only one — Di Renzo, who was the chair of the ob-gyn department at University of Perugia, the home institution for several of the authors, at the time the papers were published. In a September 2023 email, Di Renzo asked Mol for an “unreserved, full apology” for his allegations, “if you don’t want us to end up in court.” But he stopped short of offering a scientific explanation, writing that he was not the first nor the corresponding author for any of the publications. 

Di Renzo pointed out that the complaints made by Mol “refer to works of over twenty years ago,” and adds, “in any case I am preparing detailed answers to your accusations with the authors.” Mol said he has not received another response addressing his concerns. Di Renzo has not responded to requests for comment. 

Di Renzo’s email came after Mol had contacted the Italian Society for Gynecology and Obstetrics (SIGO) about his concerns. The Society had nominated Di Renzo to lead the umbrella group – The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics – but he did not get elected after the vote in October 2023. The president of SIGO at the time, Nicola Colacurci, wrote to Mol in August 2023 that the timing of his complaint intended “to interfere with the process of election” and that he had “made false statements purporting to be fact.” 

Colacurci accused Mol of being a “serial complainer” writing that other researchers deemed his previous investigations “intimidating” and subject to “accusations of racism.” The letter ends with another legal threat “to protect our Society, Prof. Di Renzo and all our members.” Neither Colacurci nor the current president of the Society have responded to requests for comment. 

Only one of the journals, Reproductive BioMedicine Online, has responded to our queries about the papers, writing that Elsevier is conducting a wider investigation involving many journals. 

Mol has identified dodgy work in his field before, previously calling out dozens of suspicious clinical trials. His efforts have contributed to the retraction of well over 100 papers and dozens of expressions of concern. 

“It is unbelievable how big this problem is,” Mol says. “It’s simply unacceptable. Worrying and unacceptable.” 

“For me, it’s not about pointing at people or punishing people,” he adds. “It’s about getting these problematic papers out of the system.”

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23 thoughts on “High-profile ob-gyn accused of duplicating data threatens to sue critic”

  1. I am writing about your publication of April 3, 2024, in which you refer to me as duplicating data. The matter was brought to my attention by Ben Mol who wrote to me on 18 August 2023 and to the Italian Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics. Here is my reply:

    1. Ben Mol raised questions about papers published over a range of 16 to 25 years ago by a group of Italian physicians. I was neither the first nor the corresponding author for any these papers. I was a co-author in some of these papers but not in others.

    2. I am not an author in the paper for which Ben Mol alleges plagiarism.

    3. Ben Mol wrote to members of the Italian Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics several months ago. The Officers of the Society replied to Ben Mol on August 22, 2023. The President of the Society, Professor Nicola Colacurci, indicated to Ben Mol via e-mail that the Society had contacted the corresponding authors of these papers but not me.

    4. Professor Colacurci also wrote that the Italian Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics was concerned that Ben Mol was engaged in inappropriate conduct that represented defamation and libel. Specifically, Professor Colacurci indicated that Ben Mol (1) made false statements purporting to be facts; (2) has published this statement using his Monash University e-mail account and therefore in his official capacity; and (3) has published false statements about physicians and scientists knowingly while he was aware of the standards of proof for allegations of scientific misconduct, indicating negligence or reckless disregard for the truth.

    5. In response to the letter from the Italian Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Ben Mol wrote an e-mail on 25 September 2023 to the Italian Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics indicating that he retracted his words, specifically he wrote, “To be clear, I do not think there was any accusation from my side, but if my words were interpreted as such they are hereby retracted. I will refrain from any comment on this matter in the future.” ( see below the original mail). This does not look to be the case.

    6. In the past, Ben Mol has made allegations against physicians and scientists throughout the world. Several of these allegations have been found to be without merit and have been found to be based on false or fabricated statements of Ben Mol.

    7. The erratic, irresponsible, and pervasive behavior of Ben Mol against individuals of certain nationalities has raised questions among members of the scientific community about his strange behaviour. In my case, all of the evidence suggests that Ben Mol made the allegations in the month of August, calculating to interfere with the election in the FIGO (Federation of International Societies in Obstetrics and Gynecology). He publicized his statement, making allegations against me because I was a candidate for the Presidency of FIGO; however, Ben Mol did not publicize his retraction of his false statements, written to the Italian Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

    8. I replied to Ben Mol on September 10, 2023.

    ———- Forwarded message ———
    Da: Ben Mol
    Date: lun 25 set 2023 alle ore 11:32
    Subject: your letter dated 22 August 2023
    To: federazione@sigo.it , nicola.colacurci@unicampania.it
    Cc: simon.barrett@monash.edu

    Dear Dr.ssa Paola Ferri, dear professor Colacurci,

    I hope this e-mail finds you well. I returned from travel today and found your letter dated 22 August 2023, for which I thank you.
    As per my e-mail of September 2nd 2023, and to prevent any misunderstanding, I repeat and clearly state that I retract my statements of the e-mail of 18 August 2023.
    To be clear, I do not think there was any accusation from my side, but if my words were interpreted as such , they are hereby retracted.
    I will refrain from any comment on this matter in the future.
    Warm regards.
    Best
    Ben

    Professor Ben W. Mol
    FRANZCOG PhD NHMRC Investigator
    https://research.monash.edu/en/persons/ben-w-mol
    Mobile [redacted by RW] W-app [redacted by RW]
    WeChat benmol @bwmol | ben.mol@monash.edu
    ORCID 0000-0001-8337-550X
    Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
    Monash University Monash Medical Centre
    246 Clayton Road Clayton Victoria 3168 Australia

    1. Do you have any comment about the scientific concerns that were expressed on papers on which you *were* an author?

  2. Ben Mol has not adequately addressed numerous public inquiries regarding his own RCTs (links included below). Instead, he characterizes these questions as personal attacks and deflects by criticizing the work of others.

    1- Possible integrity flaws in 16 RCTs coauthored by Mol can be found here:

    (https://assets.researchsquare.com/files/rs-2823793/v4/e4c50e5f-3892-42a0-93a9-e18c6d52da0d.pdf?c=1682357884)

    2- Concerns on other Mol’s RCTs:

    (1) https://osf.io/r8zph/

    (2) https://osf.io/xdc26/

    (3) https://osf.io/ckxpg/

    (4) https://osf.io/grc6z/

    (5) https://osf.io/2f3av/

    (6) https://osf.io/cfe7g/

    3- Examples of PubPeer comments on Mol’s RCTs :

    (1) https://blog.pubpeer.com/publications/AE74A7007BFEED7B1C3671A0AD9353

    (2) https://blog.pubpeer.com/publications/279452BD234EA25700B37E98747BFB

    (3) https://pubpeer.com/publications/FB1EAA0FB0C4DF285187C1C2E7A7FA

    (4) https://pubpeer.com/publications/C6B2B99CF845AE7E31BCE920E040E6

    (5) https://pubpeer.com/publications/91BDD922F3BBDE20B95BE50C815363

    (6) https://pubpeer.com/publications/EDC009A59566A666B252EA8D5E234C#null

    (7) https://pubpeer.com/publications/4F096791D2A7471284B529BE1644AD#

    (8) https://pubpeer.com/publications/1B7C7A303328791BDE8AE236B9676A#7

    (9) https://pubpeer.com/publications/AE74A7007BFEED7B1C3671A0AD9353#8

    4- He has retracted RCT due to data errors (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002937823001382).

    5- Given that he is one of the most prolific authors with over a thousand publications, and spends 30 hours a week reviewing the integral of research of others according to his own words, his criteria for accepting authorship are questionable.

    6- None of these issues can be resolved with selective responses. The most effective solution would be to unselectively share anonymized datasets from his trials over the past 10 years in the public domain, allowing any reader to check and validate them.

    1. It is concerning that all comments seem to focus exclusively on one party while disregarding the concerns raised on Dr. Ben Mol’s RCTs. I urge the commentators to publicly request that Dr. Ben Mol disclose the datasets and documents related to the approximately 20RCTs he co-authored, which have been previously identified in a comment as having integrity concerns. This request needs to be clear and assertive, compelling Dr. Ben Mol to make these datasets and documents available in the public domain.

      Dr. Mol has often interpreted inquiries about the integrity of his RCTs as personal attacks, positioning himself as a victim. The path forward requires that all his datasets be made publicly accessible. I urge readers to champion the public availability of his work, thereby enabling verification and scrutiny by all interested parties.

  3. It is an attitude of Dr. Ben Mol to be a repeat complainant (overtly or covertly) against researchers from certain geographical areas. His intentions are yet to be known but definitely they are not the quality of research. Here is a real example with evidence regarding my paper: Magdi Y, El-Damen A, Fathi AM, Abdelaziz AM, Abd-Elfatah Youssef M, Abd-Allah AA, Ahmed Elawady M, Ahmed Ibrahim M, Edris Y. Revisiting the management of recurrent implantation failure through freeze-all policy. Fertil Steril. 2017 Jul;108(1):72-77. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2017.04.020.

    Five years ago, I received a series of emails from Dr. Ben Mol concerning this paper, to which I provided comprehensive responses. Three investigators—Dr. Ben Mol from Monash University, Dr. Madelon van Wely, and Dr. Fulco van der Veen from Amsterdam University—conducted a thorough review of this paper, including an examination of the raw dataset. They concluded that the data was authentic. Dr. Ben Mol specifically remarked, and I quote, “The data of this study are real; it is presented as a non-randomized study, and although that could have been reported more clearly in future studies, I would leave it as it is.”

    I have enclosed herewith Dr. Mol’s email.

    ——————————————————————————————————————————————

    Re: Your paper in fertil Steril
    Ben Mol 
    Sat 11/30/2019 11:13 AM
    To:Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem ;Dr. Mohamed Youssef – IVF,PhD Amsterdam University
    Cc:Wely, M. van ;Veen, F. van der
    Dear Yasmin, dear Mohamed,
     
    Thanks you so much for taking the time to speak to me in Cairo;  very insightful.
     
    Let me summarize where my opinion on your paper in fertile Steril.
     
    The data of this study are real; it is presented as a non-randomized study, and although that could have been reported a bit cleared I future studies, I would leave it as it is.
     
    There is a trial registration with a similar subject, but that is not mentioned in the article. I think that does not need further action.
     
    There is a discrepancy in baseline criteria in the article and in the original data
     
     
    PAPER
    DATA
     

    Topic
    Fresh n=90
    Frozen n=81
    Fresh n=90
    Frozen n=81
     

     
     
     
     
     
     

    Female age
    31.18 (SD 3.41)
    31.47 (SD 2.55)
    30.18 (SD 3.41)
    31.47 (SD 2.55)
    p for difference: 0.005

    BMI
    26.72 (SD 2.19)
    27.11 (SD 2.26)
    26.02 (SD 2.19)
    27.11 (SD 2.26)
    p for difference: 0.002

     
    There is a difference in the number of multiple pregnancies between the paper and the data
    Multiples (Sac variable?)
    8
    19
    8
    23 (including a quadruplet…)
     

     
    In my opinion, both issues should be reported to the editors of Fertil Steril; I think they will decide to publish it as an erratum.
    Please let me know your thoughts.
     
    I look forward to meet in Cairo in February.
     
    Best
    Ben
     
    Professor Ben Mol 
    FRANZCOG PhD
     
    Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
    NHMRC Practitioner fellow
    M [redacted ]| T @bwmol   
    Email ben.mol@monash.edu 
    http://www.studies-obsgyn.nl| http://www.globalobstetricsnetwork.org
     
    Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
    Monash University
    Monash Medical Centre
    246 Clayton Road
    Clayton
    Victoria 3168
    Australia
     
    ——————————————————————————————————————————————
    In addressing the transcription errors identified, I actively engaged with The three colleagues– Dr. Ben Mol from Monash University, Dr. Madelon van Wely, and Dr. Fulco van der Veen from Amsterdam University–and the Fertility and Sterility Journal. I provided comprehensive details on the points raised by the three colleagues and sought their advice on the necessity of issuing an erratum. After their review and agreement with the content of the proposed erratum, it was submitted to the Fertility and Sterility Journal.
    Please find enclosed the email chain between myself and the three colleagues—Dr. Ben Mol, Dr. Madelon van Wely, and Dr. Fulco van der Veen—discussing the content of the erratum. This documentation is provided to further clarify the steps taken to address the issues raised by Dr. Ben Mol.
    ——————————————————————————————————————————————
    Re: Rectification Letter
    Ben Mol 
    Wed 12/11/2019 2:29 PM
    To:Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem ;Wely, M. van ;Veen, F. van der ;Dr. Mohamed Youssef – IVF,PhD Amsterdam University
    Put us in cc please. Ben
     
    From: Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem
    Date: Wednesday, 11 December 2019 at 3:38 pm
    To: “Wely, M. van” , “Veen, F. van der” , Ben Mol , “Dr. Mohamed Youssef – IVF,PhD Amsterdam University”
    Subject: Re: Rectification Letter
     
    I will send email today, any other recommendations?
     
    Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem
     

    From: Wely, M. van
    Sent: Tuesday, December 10, 2019 9:56 AM
    To: Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem ; Veen, F. van der ; Ben Mol ; Dr. Mohamed Youssef – IVF,PhD Amsterdam University
    Subject: Re: Rectification Letter
     
    No this is perfect. But please remove the question marks, add the Fertililty and Sterility volume year page number plus add your institute.
    I would send it by email to the editorial office using the subject header :
    Correction to the published article by Magli et al., 2017
    Thanks Yasmin
    Madelon
    M. van Wely

    From: Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem
    Sent: Tuesday, December 10, 2019 8:26:26 AM
    To: Veen, F. van der ; Ben Mol ; Dr. Mohamed Youssef – IVF,PhD Amsterdam University ; Wely, M. van
    Subject: Re: Rectification Letter
     
    Thanks all for your efforts. This is great, I have no comment. I just need the confirmation of Dr. Madlon on this and If she has any comments.
    How could I send it to the editors, via submission site or via email?
     
     
    Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem
     

    From: Veen, F. van der
    Sent: Sunday, December 8, 2019 12:07 PM
    To: Ben Mol ; Dr. Mohamed Youssef – IVF,PhD Amsterdam University ; Wely, M. van ; Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem
    Subject: RE: Rectification Letter
     
    Minor comments
    fulco
     
    Van: Ben Mol
    Verzonden: zondag 8 december 2019 1:43
    Aan: Dr. Mohamed Youssef – IVF,PhD Amsterdam University ; Veen, F. van der ; Wely, M. van ; Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem
    Onderwerp: Re: Rectification Letter
     
    Thanks Jazmin and Mohammed, see attached. Ben
     
    From: “Dr. Mohamed Youssef – IVF,PhD Amsterdam University”
    Date: Saturday, 7 December 2019 at 7:44 pm
    To: “Veen, F. van der” , “Wely, M. van” , Ben Mol , Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem
    Subject: Rectification Letter
     
    Dear Madelon, Fulco & Ben,
    Hope to see you soon in Cairo. I attached the letter for your revision and recommendation.
    Regards
    Mohamed

    Please find enclosed the email (highlighted in yellow I sent to the editors of Fertility and sterility with the erratum, and I put the three investigators in CC as Dr. Ben Mol asked.

    Correction to the published article by Magdi et al., 2017
    Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem 
    Wed 12/11/2019 6:53 PM
    To:Fertility and Sterility Dialog
    Cc:Dr.Mohamed Youssef ;Ben Mol ;Wely, M. van ;Veen, F. van der
    1 attachments (18 KB)
    F&S Errutum.docx;
    To Editor-in-Chief of Fertility and Sterility
    I attached in this email an erratum to the manuscript by Magdi et al, 2017, entitled “Revisiting the management of recurrent implantation failure through freeze-all policy”.

    Thanks
    Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem

    —————————————————————————————————————————————–
    The editorial board of Fertility and Sterility responded, and I quote: “This falls outside our erratum policy as we only publish errata within one year of publication and only if it significantly impacts the results.”
    The complete email received from the Fertility and Sterility Journal on 12 December 2019 is enclosed below.

    ——————————————————————————————————————————————

    RE: Correction to the published article by Magdi et al., 2017
    Fert Stert 
    Thu 12/12/2019 5:49 PM
    To:Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem
    Thank you for your email.  This falls outside our erratum policy as we only publish erratum within one year of publication and only if it significantly impacts the results.  As this is a re-analysis, we would encourage you to post this with your article on the F&S Dialog.  You can find the article at the following link https://www.fertstertdialog.com/users/16110-fertility-and-sterility/posts/16555-23592 You will need to create an account to post a comment if you do not have one already.  Please let us know if you have any questions about posting on the Dialog.
     
    Thank you,
     
    Editorial Office
    Fertility and Sterility
    fertstert@asrm.org

    ——————————————————————————————————————————————
    Following the response from the journal, I received an email from Dr. Ben Mol commending my efforts. Consequently, I published the correction on the Fertility and Sterility Dialogue as advised and communicated this to them.
    The correspondence from Dr. Mol to me is enclosed below.
    Re: Correction to the published article by Magdi et al., 2017
    From: Ben Mol
    Sent: Saturday, December 21, 2019 1:31 AM
    To: Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem
    Cc: Dr.Mohamed Youssef ; Wely, M. van ; Veen, F. van der
    Subject: Re: Correction to the published article by Magdi et al., 2017
     
    Dear Yasmin, Mohammed, Madelon, Fulco,
     
    First of all, my compliments to Yasmin and Mohammed for raising this with the editors. It is never easy to do this but you did it, which is great.
     
    Now the editors have stated that they do not need an erratum that settles it. You are still free to add a correction on the journal website under https://www.fertstertdialog.com/users/16110-fertility-and-sterility/posts/16555-23592. You will see there a question from me that I posted 7 months ago before we got in contact. It would be my preference to correct the error there, but that is not my decision to make.
     
    I want to thank Madelon and Fulco for mediating this discussion. Yasmin and Mohammed, it was really good to meet in Cairo. I have booked travel for February and I look forward to catch up again then.
     
    For now, have a good festive season, although I am sure it is a bit different in Egypt then in the West.
     
    Speak soon
     
    Best
    Ben
     
    Professor Ben Mol 
    FRANZCOG PhD
     
    Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
    NHMRC Practitioner fellow
    M [redacted] | T @bwmol   
    Email ben.mol@monash.edu 
    http://www.studies-obsgyn.nl| http://www.globalobstetricsnetwork.org
     
     
    Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
    Monash University
    Monash Medical Centre
    246 Clayton Road
    Clayton
    Victoria 3168
    Australia
     

    Re: Correction to the published article by Magdi et al., 2017
    Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem 
    Sat 12/21/2019 9:34 AM
    To:Ben Mol
    Cc:Dr.Mohamed Youssef ;Wely, M. van ;Veen, F. van der
    I already have submitted the comments to the dialog box, but waiting approval.
    Happy new Year for you All! 

    Yasmin Magdi Abd-Elkreem

    Here is the Link:

    https://www.fertstertdialog.com/users/16110-fertility-and-sterility/posts/16555-23592

    —————————————————————————————————————————————

    Now, I received the following points from the Journal seeking explanation:

    A reader has alleged discrepancies between the data presented in Table 1 and the original data set used for this publication regarding BMI, age, and ongoing pregnancy rates.
    The reader pointed out to us that there are two trials involved and only one of those is registered in the international trial register (NCT02681367) with patients enrolled; the latter trial was closed without including patients.

    These are the same points I discussed with my colleagues and the Journal five years ago, as evidenced above. While the Journal does not disclose the identity of the complainant, only those directly involved possess my data and these specific details. This situation raises two significant concerns. Either Dr. Ben Mol repeatedly filed complaints or one of the three colleagues involved breached confidentiality by sharing my data and details with others to lodge a complaint. Both scenarios (a repeat complainer or breach of confidentiality) are detrimental and warrant attention and action from the scientific community.
    Here, I would direct your attention to the COPE guideline titled “Addressing ethics complaints from complainants who submit multiple issues,” which can be found at DOI: https://doi.org/10.24318/qiW7mhWw. I quote the following section:

    ——————————————————————————————————————————————

    1) Extent to which complaint raises new/unresolved matters for review. Complaints relating to circumstances that have already been reviewed and investigated or dismissed will not be rereviewed unless sufficient new evidence is provided to merit reconsideration.

    2) If additional complaints are received on the same matter without sufficient new evidence to change the editor’s opinion from the prior review, editors may need to reiterate that this matter had been reviewed and found insufficient, and that in the absence of significant new information, the journal considers the matter to be closed.

    3) In the event that a complainant persists in submitting complaints on a meritless or unsubstantiated matter, the journal may choose to refer the complainant to legal or ethical mandates that may be applicable to the complainant, particularly any applicable laws, codes, or legal standards on defamation, and any ethical guidelines prescribing reckless, false, or malicious statements or indiscriminate criticism. In cases where the complainant’s institution or other governing entity is known, the journal can remind the complainant that his/her conduct may be ground for a referral to such institution.

    4) Complaints of a harassing, offensive, threatening, or defamatory manner should be referred to the journal or publisher’s legal counsel or other appropriate authorities and the journal should notify the complainant that allegations made in such language will not be investigated.

    The study published is explicitly identified as a prospective cohort study within the paper itself. False statements about my work are dangerous. I am not sure what the motives are to complain about points that have previously been reviewed and investigated by the complainant or his team and were dismissed by the Journal editors five years ago as not warranting an erratum. It is unreasonable to expect that I should spend the remainder of my career responding to accusations on the same points. I hope the actions to tarnish the reputation of Egyptian researchers will stop soon.

    1. You state: “This situation raises two significant concerns. Either Dr. Ben Mol repeatedly filed complaints or one of the three colleagues involved breached confidentiality by sharing my data and details with others to lodge a complaint. Both scenarios (a repeat complainer or breach of confidentiality) are detrimental and warrant attention and action from the scientific community.”

      Allow me to give a third possibility: the journal only now – perhaps because of new leadership – has noticed the complaint made many years ago and decided action is warranted (unlike many years ago).

      There are many examples in the scientific literature where a journal has not done anything for years (even over a decade), and suddenly something is done.

      1. The responsibility rests with the journal to maintain a policy that is consistently applied going forward, rather than retrospectively. In this instance, however, the situation differs as the journal editors, a complainant, two other investigators, and two authors were involved in an email discussion where it was collectively determined that no action was required. As demonstrated by the aforementioned correspondence, there was unanimous agreement that there was no case to answer. The revival of this issue seems to be driven by malicious intentions, and it is for this reason that I have chosen to make this matter public. Moreover, the scientific community also bears a responsibility to guard against repeat complainants in accordance with COPE guidelines rules mentioned above and can be accessed via this link: https://doi.org/10.24318/qiW7mhWw

        1. From the correspondence I see you admit to various transcription errors. I can also see that this supposedly was handled through a comment under the article, although I cannot see this on the website of the journal – perhaps I am looking at the wrong place, but the links in your correspondence do not work for me.

          What I try to indicate is that it is not obvious at all that this was triggered by a renewed complaint. It is fair enough that you are unhappy to have to respond to something you have already responded to, and which you believed was already finalized, but you are putting blame on a specific person without knowing whether he was involved in this renewed action from the journal.

          1. I have merely presented the facts, backed by the evidence available to me. If the same issues are brought up again using identical phrasing, it suggests that they are being raised by the same individual. Therefore, I have indicated that we are likely dealing with either a repetitive complaint or a breach of confidentiality, both significant issues that require a response. Alternatively, it may be that someone has independently come to the same conclusions based on unfounded assumptions; those issuing these new complaints should recognize that their concerns have been previously addressed and accordingly withdraw their complaint. Moreover, those who participated in the initial investigation should now support me by reaffirming that they have reviewed these points and found no case to answer. I believe this is a reasonable and fair request.

          2. The facts are that there is a very obvious possibility that new leadership at the journal has picked up on an old complaint, without knowing that it was solved – or perhaps they no longer consider it resolved. It is also possible that Ben Mol resubmitted his complaint, but it is far from the only possibility and in my view even a less likely possibility than the one I propose.

          3. In either possibility, I have nothing to conceal. If the issue comes from the new leadership of the Journal, they should be made aware that it is a previously resolved matter. If, however, this is another complaint by Ben Mol, it serves to further establish him as a repeat complainer, which could significantly diminish his credibility and call into question his integrity, as whistleblowers are expected to act with integrity.

  4. “The responsibility rests with the journal to maintain a policy that is consistently applied going forward, rather than retrospectively. ”
    This suggests that you don’t think articles already in the scientific record should be reviewed at a later date. Are you really saying that the record should never be corrected?

  5. This is not accurate. I kindly request that you review the correspondence previously mentioned, which clearly details that the paper has undergone investigation and all parties involved have concluded that there is no case to answer. Any further complaints would, therefore, be repetitive and may raise ethical concerns. I would refer you to this COPE document: https://doi.org/10.24318/qiW7mhWw

    1. You haven’t actually answered my question: This suggests that you don’t think articles already in the scientific record should be reviewed at a later date. Are you really saying that the record should never be corrected?

  6. Dr. Jazzlet, your question has already been addressed, as illustrated by the correspondence displayed above, which thoroughly documents my responses to inquiries from a complainant, investigators, and journal editors following the publication of my study. This is further supported by a complimentary email included in the correspondence, which states, “First of all, my compliments to Yasmin and Mohammed for raising this with the editors. It is never easy to do this, but you did it, which is great.” Therefore, my proactive engagement with post-publication queries was clearly demonstrated five years ago.

    To conclude, I have previously addressed these issues to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

    I respectfully request that the three investigators (Dr. Ben Mol, Dr. Madelon van Wely, and Dr. Fulco van der Veen), who assessed my paper in 2019, publicly confirm that they are not responsible for this new complaint and reaffirm their previous determination that the issue was conclusively resolved with no case to answer. This is in line with the COPE guidelines on submitting multiple complaints regarding the same issues (https://doi.org/10.24318/qiW7mhWw).

  7. Dear all,

    Many responses and that is good. The best way to solve these issues is to bring tem in the public domain.

    Dear Prof Di Renzo, Dear Giancarlo, There was a request from SIGO to leave this matter until after the FIGO elections; I respected that. After that, I wrote several times with a request for an explanation, the last time on Friday 23 Feb 2024 – E-mail known with Retraction Watch -, including the announcement that in absence of a response I would inform others. As there was no response, I did that.

    On to the heart of the matter. There is a large series of papers from the department of O&G from the Uni of Perugia that raise questions about trustworthiness.

    To the credits of Dr Sandro Gerli, he responds on PubPeer “regretfully resulting in a degree of self-plagiarism” https://pubpeer.com/publications/BAF0F0E32BF9E3CFAFB366B372F36A and “The 2007 paper was written by an uncredited student, who unbeknownst to us at the time, adapted the 2003 paper and submitted it as novel work.” https://pubpeer.com/publications/FD8D01B0B17AA4BBB164B1CB24F2E7 (now retracted).

    The reply of Dr. Di Renzo is different “I was neither the first nor the corresponding author for any these papers. I was a co-author in some of these papers but not in others.” apparently putting all the blame with his colleagues.

    The above response from Cheshire “Do you have any comment about the scientific concerns that were expressed on papers on which you *were* an author?” captures the essence.

    Let’s focus on sets of papers where Dr Di Renzo is last author on the second paper (that has similarities with the first paper)
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/BC68A825D592B1EF1A639022FEDE3D#1
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/FD8D01B0B17AA4BBB164B1CB24F2E7#1
    https://pubpeer.com/publications/2E24FFD9FFD33082782F98E8861E21#2

    Giancarlo, please explain the similarities between these 3 sets of two papers on which you are last author. As I do not have explain the rules about author ship, you are equally responsible for the content of these papers as the first and corresponding authors. If you are no longer want to take that responsibility for these papers, because you were unaware of the similarities, please report that to the journals and state it, here or on PubPeer, in the public domain.

    Please realize that on the end of the research-pipeline there are patients who depend on the trustworthiness of the data we publish.

  8. “Recardo” comes with the usual response if I raise concern about the work of others; an attack on my work.
    It has all been investigated by the journal and as far as completed there is no wrongdoing from my side found – there will be one correction as the raw data showed slight differences with the published paper. In addition, I have retracted one abstract as it contained a mistake-identified by ourselves. https://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(23)00138-2/fulltext
    1- Possible integrity flaws in 16 RCTs coauthored by Mol can be found here:(https://assets.researchsquare.com/files/rs-2823793/v4/e4c50e5f-3892-42a0-93a9-e18c6d52da0d.pdf?c=1682357884)

    2- Concerns on other Mol’s RCTs:
    (1) https://osf.io/r8zph/ investigated by the journal – no wrongdoing found; data shared in an IPD PMID 37429323/

    (2) https://osf.io/xdc26/ investigated by the journal – no wrongdoing found; data will be shared in an IPD

    (3) https://osf.io/ckxpg/ investigated by the journal – no wrongdoing found;

    (4) https://osf.io/grc6z/ investigated by the journal – no wrongdoing found; claims that the study was registered late are= not true; as described, this has to do with the Brazilian trial registry, not with the timing of registration

    (5) https://osf.io/2f3av/ status not know to me – I thought there was never a formal investigation. Trial run by Rob Norman in Adelaide.

    (6) https://osf.io/cfe7g/ investigated by the journal – no wrongdoing found;

    3- Examples of PubPeer comments on Mol’s RCTs :
    (1) https://blog.pubpeer.com/publications/AE74A7007BFEED7B1C3671A0AD9353 I have answered these questions on Pubpeer

    (2) https://blog.pubpeer.com/publications/279452BD234EA25700B37E98747BFB I have answered these questions on Pubpeer. Commentator Magazinov also responded that the concerns were incorrect

    (3) https://pubpeer.com/publications/FB1EAA0FB0C4DF285187C1C2E7A7FA I have answered these questions on Pubpeer; investigated by the journal – no wrongdoing found;

    (4) https://pubpeer.com/publications/C6B2B99CF845AE7E31BCE920E040E6 I have answered these questions on Pubpeer; investigated by the journal – no wrongdoing found;

    (5) https://pubpeer.com/publications/91BDD922F3BBDE20B95BE50C815363 investigation ongoing by the journal – we have replied to the journal in weeks but we still wait for a response; 11 months now.

    (6) https://pubpeer.com/publications/EDC009A59566A666B252EA8D5E234C#null Madelon van Wely has answered these questions on Pubpeer;

    (7) https://pubpeer.com/publications/4F096791D2A7471284B529BE1644AD#
    This refers to comment (2) https://osf.io/xdc26/ above

    (8) https://pubpeer.com/publications/1B7C7A303328791BDE8AE236B9676A#7 I have answered these questions on Pubpeer; investigated by the journal – no wrongdoing found;

    (9) https://pubpeer.com/publications/AE74A7007BFEED7B1C3671A0AD9353#8 This is a repeat od comment (1)
    4- He has retracted RCT due to data errors (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002937823001382).
    I acknowledged that above; unintended error. That is what everyone should do.

    5- Given that he is one of the most prolific authors with over a thousand publications, and spends 30 hours a week reviewing the integral of research of others according to his own words, his criteria for accepting authorship are questionable.
    I cannot defend that; please challenge me on five papers of your choice; I will respond.

    6- None of these issues can be resolved with selective responses. The most effective solution would be to unselectively share anonymized datasets from his trials over the past 10 years in the public domain, allowing any reader to check and validate them.
    As I am not the data-owner in most of these papers I cannot do that. About 20 of my papers have been investigated, including sharing of data, and no wrongdoing has been found. I have shared raw data in many situations.

    The main problem is not the fact that 30% of the published RCTs is not trustworthy. The main problem is that apart from myself so few of us speak out – Jim Thornton, Madelon van Wely, my co-authors on the many papers raising concerns – Andrew Grey / Mark Bolland and colleagues – that is it. Plus the editors/publishers who continue to deny and cover-up.

    I am happy to discuss all my work, preferably at an open face.

    Ben Willem Mol

  9. Dear Dr Magdi, dear Yasmin

    You have published a paper https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28579406/ that seems to be a randomised trial, but on closer reading is not.

    You have also retrospectively registered a RCT under NCT02681367 (https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02681367) on 12 February 2016, with the title “Management of Recurrent Implantation Failure (RIF)” comparing frozen and fresh transfer in 200 women.” Recruitment in that study was between February 2012 ending January 2016. According to an initial e-mail of Dr. Magdi (29 July 2019) there are two studies, and the RCT (though completed in January 2016) is in the process of writing up.

    You have written to Fertility and Sterility that your paper https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28579406/ had mistakes, and that female age was 30.18 and not the reported 31.18, and that BMI was 26.02 and not the reported 26.72. That info was in the public domain, but has been deleted by the journal as they changed websites.

    I would suggest to let us know the status of NCT02681367, of which you were – according to your own saying – in the process of writing up in 2019.

    Sincerely
    Ben Willem Mol

    1. Dr. Mol, you have not answered the direct question posed to you: Are you the repeat complainer who resubmitted to the Journal the concerns that you indicated five years ago were satisfactorily addressed, as evidenced in the correspondence above?

  10. Thank you for your response, which unfortunately raises further concerns. Specifically, you acknowledged two data errors in two out of 20 studies that underwent dataset evaluation, stating: “there will be one correction as the raw data showed slight differences with the published paper. In addition, I have retracted one abstract as it contained a mistake identified by ourselves.” (https://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(23)00138-2/full text).

    This indicates a 10% error rate (2/20). Over the past 20 years, you have published more than 2,000 articles, averaging two per week. Applying the 10% error rate, this suggests that over 200 of your articles may contain errors that require correction or retraction. This is concerning for patients treated based on the data in these 200 articles.

    As an integrity researcher committed to patient care, I trust you will persuade your coauthors (the data owners) to share the datasets underlying your 2,000+ articles in the public domain for verification by interested readers. Selective solutions, like those you suggested, will not resolve the issue.

    Additionally, your coauthor, Madelon van Wely, has unresolved concerns in the public domain (https://pubpeer.com/publications/C86E576602BB28EAE06786CAC278B3). It would be beneficial if she could respond to clarify her contributions to that paper.

    1. In addition to my comment above, Dr. Mol, I missed addressing a statement you made in your response: “Plus the editors/publishers who continue to deny and cover-up.”

      Do you believe this claim also applies to your own publications? If you think editors deny and cover up issues in others’ research, then they might do the same with your work, suggesting that your 20 papers investigated by them could have serious errors that were covered up. You have coauthored publications with many of these editors, or you are part of their editorial board, such as being an associate editor at Fertility and Sterility Journal (https://www.fertstert.org/content/edboard), potentially influencing their decisions if you raise complaints to them.

  11. Response to ‘Recardo’: I am not going to respond repeatedly to anonymous accusations that contain so many inaccuracies.

    Response to Dr. Yasmin Magdi. To answer your direct question: “I am not a repeat complainer”.

  12. As far as I can understand, you are not planning to share the datasets and documents underlying the 2,000+ articles you coauthored in the public domain. If I am mistaken, please upload them to any public repository and share the link with us in your next response. By your own admission, there is a 10% error rate (two out of 20 datasets examined) in your datasets, indicating that more than 200 articles you coauthored may contain similar or more serious errors. This could potentially harm patients.

    Onus of Proof

    You have indicated that authors must prove their innocence against allegations of research misconduct. Consequently, the burden of proof lies with you. If there is no wrongdoing to be covered up, I trust that you will find a way to convince your coauthors to champion this: integrity researchers should ensure all the datasets and documents underlying their published work are publicly accessible to any reader. This transparency would establish them as role models and ensure their credibility.

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