Adeel Safdar was once a rising star in the field of kinesiology. After completing his doctorate degree at McMaster University in Canada, working with one of the titans of his field, Safdar took a postdoc at Harvard, then accepted a newly created chair position at another university in Ontario.
That all came crashing down last year, when Safdar went on trial in Canada, accused of horrifically abusing his wife. Over the course of the trial, allegations arose about his research, prompting two journals to flag papers he co-authored with his former mentor, Mark Tarnopolsky.
A cancer researcher based at The Ohio State University has retracted five papers from one journal, citing concerns about figures.
The notices for all five papers state the Journal of Biological Chemistry raised questions about some figures, and the authors were not able to supply raw data in all instances. Four of the notices say the authors offered to submit data from repeat experiments and corrected figures, which the journal declined.
According to Kaoru Sakabe, data integrity manager at JBC, the authors “agreed to withdraw these articles after we declined their offers.”
Researchers in Australia have withdrawn a 2006 paper in The Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), citing image duplication.
In the withdrawal notice, published July 14, 2017, the authors claim that the “errors do not impact the underlying scientific findings of the article.”
Although the notice does not mention an investigation, a comment on PubPeer on March 2017—signed by Mark Hargreaves, the vice-chancellor at the University of Melbourne—indicates that the university conducted an investigation to assess the issues in the paper and determined that research misconduct “did not occur.”
A former graduate student at the University of Hong Kong confessed to making “inappropriate modifications” to several figures in a 2013 paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC).
According to the retraction notice, the authors identified issues in 13 images while reviewing the data; the paper’s first author, Yingying Lu, copped to manipulating the figures. Even though “these modifications did not change the results or interpretations of this work,” the authors requested the paper be retracted.
The paper’s corresponding author, Jainbo Yue, previously based at the University of Hong Kong and now at the City University of Hong Kong, had nothing to add to the retraction notice, and told us that a “third person” is repeating the key experiments.
Two molecular biologists have withdrawn two 2015 papers published in the same journal, citing image duplication and manipulation, among other issues.
One notice — published in June — explains that, after further investigation, the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) found certain experiments “were not performed appropriately.” The other notice cites “missing data” and notes that certain data “did not accurately represent experimental conditions.”
The authors of the papers—Daniel L. Kaplan, associate professor at Florida State University who heads a genomics lab, andIrina Bruck, assistant scholar scientist in Kaplan’s lab—also received a correction in JBC this month, which cites image duplication.
The three notices, all published this month in JBC, may reveal a pattern, but there’s still a lot we don’t know. One of the two papers was questioned on PubPeer. Several commenters flagged duplicated images and had questions about the antibody used.
On April 27, the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) retracted nine papers by a researcher based in Israel, including some dating back to 2000.
The reason: Image manipulation.
Michal Neeman, vice president of The Weizmann Institute of Science, told us that the researcher, Rony Seger, is under investigation following an allegation of misconduct affecting papers in multiple journals.
So far, we’ve found 11 retractions for papers by Seger, a molecular biologist. In the notices, the authors state they have “full confidence” in the findings, and in many instances have replicated the work.
A cancer biologist at Harvard who’s issued multiple editorial notices in recent years has received an expression of concern about a 2011 paper, citing “credible concerns” with the data and conclusions.
The publisher does not detail the nature of the issues in the notice.
When journals learn papers are problematic, how long does it take them to act?
We recently had a chance to find out as part of our continuing coverage of the case of Anil Jaiswal at the University of Maryland, who’s retracted 15 papers (including two new ones we recently identified), and has transitioned out of cancer research. Here’s what happened.
As part of a public records request related to the investigation, we received letters that the University of Maryland sent to 11 journals regarding 26 “compromised” papers co-authored by Jaiswal, four of which had been retracted by the time of the letter. The letters were dated between August and September 2016 (and one in February) — although, in some cases, the journals told us they received the letter later. Since that date, three journals have retracted nine papers and corrected another, waiting between four and six months to take action. One journal published an editorial note of concern within approximately two months after the university letter.
And six journals have not taken any public action.