What Caught Our Attention: Soon after the paper appeared, the journal was alerted to the fact its findings were at odds with others in the field. When the editor approached the authors, everything fell apart: The authors couldn’t repeat the experiments, and “were also unsure of the molecular probes that were used in the study.” While it isn’t unusual to have doubts about data — since since research is a process of experimentation — it is odd not to know how your experiment was conducted. The paper was retracted less than two months after it was published. The manuscript was accepted two months after it was submitted in early May, theoretically giving reviewers enough time to catch these issues (along with the authors’ failure to cite relevant papers).
In July 2015, DNA and Cell Biology began routinely scanning manuscript submissions for plagiarism using iThenticate; since then, it’s rejected between four and six manuscripts each month for that reason alone. Additional submissions have been rejected after the journal realized the authors had digitally altered figures. The level of misconduct “shocked” editor-in-chief Carol Shoshkes Reiss, as she wrote in a recent editorial for the journal. She spoke to us about the strict measures the journal has adopted in response to these incidents.
Retraction Watch: Why did you decide to begin scanning submissions for plagiarized text using iThenticate™ software in July, 2015? Did something prompt that decision? Continue reading What happened after a journal decided to get tough on plagiarism?
The two retracted papers, along with a third that also contains similar text, all conclude that a certain polymorphism could signal a risk for coronary artery disease among Chinese people, though each paper presents different data. The papers do not have any authors in common; the first authors are all based at different hospitals in China. The editor in chief of one journal told us that some of the reviewers did not use institutional email addresses, which leaves open the possibility that they were fake emails, and the peer-review process was compromised.
Here’s the first retraction notice, for “Fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 polymorphisms and susceptibility to coronary artery disease,” published in DNA and Cell Biology. The notice states the paper contains:
A group of authors has earned two retractions for a pair of papers on which they had “severe conflicts of author sequences,” according to the retraction note.
All of the authors were involved in a recent spate of compromised peer review that hit Springer journals back in August. Among the 64 retracted papers this summer, one included all of the authors on the two recently retracted papers, including first author Yan-Zhi Chen. Besides authorship issues, the latest two retractions also contain a “striking similarity to other publications,” according to the retraction notices.
The notes for the two papers are the same, except for the title of the paper. (They are also paywalled, tsk tsk!)
DNA and Cell Biology has declared it will ban any authors who submit plagiarized manuscripts for three years, and will no longer accept suggestions of reviewers with non-institutional email addresses.
The move comes after a wave of hundreds of retractions stemming from fake peer reviews, often occurring when authors supply fake emails for suggested reviewers.
In an editorial published online October 23, editor Carol Shoshkes Reiss notes that the decision to ban authors who plagiarize material stems from a rash of recent submissions containing overlapping text: Continue reading Biology journal bans plagiarizers, reviewers with non-institutional email addresses
Yihang Shen published a paper using his PhD research on the molecular biology of fetal rodent livers earlier this year in DNA and Cell Biology. Unfortunately, he didn’t have permission to publish the data. He also omitted the names of people who participated in the research, and listed an incorrect funding source.
The “cited grant,” according to the journal editor, was a grant awarded to Richard Finnell, a UT Austin researcher who often works with Shen’s PhD advisor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the well-known geneticist Fanyi Zeng.
Here’s the notice for “Characterization of Hydroxymethylation Patterns in the Promoter of b-globin Clusters in Murine Fetal Livers”: Continue reading Use of data “without permission,” bad authors list, and hidden funding sink mol bio paper
Alfredo Fusco, a cancer researcher in Italy who is facing a criminal investigation for fraud, has had two more papers retracted.
A German professor who claims to have developed “a self-consistent field theory which is used to derive at all known interactions of the potential vortex” will have at least two papers retracted, thanks to the scrutiny of a concerned economist.
The first retraction has already appeared, in DNA and Cell Biology, for a paper by Konstantin Meyl called “DNA and Cell Resonance: Magnetic Waves Enable Cell Communication.” The notice says nothing: Continue reading “Way out there” paper claiming to merge physics and biology retracted