A researcher in Switzerland has retracted her 2015 paper in the Journal of Cell Biology, saying the first author — her former postdoc — admitted to fabricating multiple aspects of the paper.
After Sophie Martin of the University of Lausanne couldn’t reproduce the data from another manuscript she was preparing to submit, she contacted her former student, Pranav Ullal, who admitted he had fabricated the data, along with two figures in the JCB paper.
A spokesperson for the University of Lausanne told us that Ullal left Switzerland after his contract was over, and is now in India.
Martin told us the whole experience has been upsetting:
There are a few things to note about the latest retraction: One, the last author is again Kuo Min-liang — who holds an appointment at National Taiwan University (NTU), and is also a vice president at Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan. Kuo is currently facing allegations that he accepted bribes to add co-authors to his papers; NTU told us it is investigating the latest retraction in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, including Kuo.
The other notable feature of the retraction is the notice itself, which lists a remarkable number of duplicated images. Take a look:
Mike Rossner has made a name for himself in academic publishing as somewhat of a “manipulation detective.” As the editor of The Journal of Cell Biology, in 2002 he initiated a policy of screening all images in accepted manuscripts, causing the journal to reject roughly 1% of papers that had already passed peer review. Other journals now screen images, but finding manipulation is only the first step – handling it responsibly is another matter. Rossner has started his own company to help journals and institutions manage this tricky process. We talked to him about his new venture.
Retraction Watch: What are the primary services offered by your company?
A pair of cell biologists have taken responsibility for extensive figure errors that scuttled their paper in the Journal of Cell Biology.
While there were five authors, first and last authors Eva Szabo and Michal Opas took responsibility in the notice. A number of figures “contain incorrect data and/or presentation errors,” and the original data isn’t available for verification. The notice is unusually clear about which figures and data are compromised.
The paper was published in 2008, and retracted on January 12, 2015. It has been cited 32 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
A former researcher at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis has won back the right to apply for Federal research funding despite a 2011 finding against him by the Office of Research Integrity (ORI).
If you’re a journal editor or publisher, there’s a good chance your email inbox has seen its share of emails from “Clare Francis,” who has been crusading against text and image duplication in papers for some years now. Some editors have grown quite weary of those emails, sometimes because they don’t want to deal with anonymous whistleblowers, and sometimes because they have found Clare’s claims to be without merit.