Today, in another Retraction Watch exclusive, we have obtained a letter sent by a faculty member at UEL to department colleagues. It suggests that faculty there are very concerned about the toll these allegations may take on the university’s students and reputation, and are furious that senior officials have failed to keep them in the loop about any potential investigation.
Since the weekend, we’ve been trying to get more details on a somewhat mysterious retraction in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. The sparse notice really only said that there were “data inconsistencies” that made the data unreliable.
On Monday, as we noted in an update to the post yesterday, we learned:
The inconsistencies related to what an individual’s lab-book recorded in terms of patients and infections. These came to light when this data was compared to hospital records, during the process of manuscript preparation. As noted, we reported our concerns about the validity of the data and following a review, there was no adequate explanation and the concerns remained.
Here at Retraction Watch, we’ve been following the case of Jatinder Ahluwalia with interest. You may recall that an investigation by University College London (UCL) found “beyond reasonable doubt” that Ahluwalia had renumbered files to deceive a co-author. UCL was also “highly confident” that Ahluwalia had messed with his solutions to make his results look better, and sabotaged his colleagues’ work. The report of that investigation was part of a Nature retraction notice.
We’ve now learned that UCL was not the first scene of misconduct by Ahluwalia. Yesterday, we obtained letters by University of Cambridge faculty and administrators describing repeated — and in the words of of one professor, amateurish — data fabrication by Ahluwalia that led to his dismissal from the university’s graduate program.
The quote in the title of this post is a potential Onion headline that didn’t make it into print. It was part of an episode of This American Life that aired last week, and it seemed apropos, even though the subject here is superconductors rather than biology.
The retraction notices for papers by Silvia Bulfone-Paus continue to appear. Yesterday, the Journal of Immunology posted notices for these three previously acceptedretractions by the researcher, work at whose Borstel Centre lab is under investigation for misconduct.