The study, “Human monocytes constitutively express membrane-bound, biologically active, and interferon-gamma-upregulated interleukin-15,” has been cited 124 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Its corresponding author is Tiziana Musso, of the University of Turin.
Yesterday, we reported that Peter Zabel, managing director of Germany’s Research Center Borstel, had stepped down amid allegations that he had duplicated one of his German papers in English. It turns out, however, that the reason for his resignation was plagiarism of a 2008 paper in Nature Reviews Immunology by a group at the University of Michigan.
Retraction Watch readers are likely to be familiar with Germany’s Research Center Borstel, because it is home to Silvia Bulfone-Paus, who has recently retracted 12 papers. Now it turns out that Borstel’s managing director, Peter Zabel — who was involved in the Bulfone-Paus investigation — has stepped down because of allegations of duplication of his own work.
Retraction Watch readers may have been following the case of Silvia Bulfone-Paus, whose lab has been forced to retract 12 papers amid allegations of scientific misconduct. As is often true in such cases, the story doesn’t end with those retractions. We’ve just become aware of a fascinating exchange in March and April between Bulfone-Paus’s supporters and her home institution, Germany’s Research Center Borstel.
First, some background: Karin Wiebauer, a former post-doc in Bulfone-Paus’s lab, flagged the potential misconduct, in great detail, for Bulfone-Paus in a November 2009 email. (In fact, she had brought it to her attention years earlier.) But Bulfone-Paus did not tell Borstel officials about the allegations until late February 2010. Borstel’s investigation into Bulfone-Paus’s lab began in July 2010.
Once that began, a person referring to himself as “Marco Berns” began emailing officials, journalists, and others about the situation. Nature called that move a “smear campaign,” and the emails “libellous,” but in retrospect they — and Wiebauer’s analysis — appear to have been spot-on, based on the eventual report of the Borstel committee. That report — which found data manipulation by two of Bulfone-Paus’s post-docs — led the institute’s Scientific Advisory Board to ask for Bulfone-Paus’s resignation. She only tendered that a month later, after more pressure.
We find that near-complete lack of information frustrating, not to mention useless to the scientific community. Unfortunately, it’s par for the course when it comes to the JBC and Bulfone-Paus retractions. The other three said exactly the same thing.
With that in mind, we thought it would be worth looking at all 12 retraction notices, as a sort of case series in journals’ transparency. We often look at particular retractions in a vacuum, but here was a chance to look at 12 papers, all retracted for the same reason, to see how each journal reported the withdrawal.