Biologists are retracting three papers after the journal concluded they contain reused images, designed to represent different experiments. The authors stand by the conclusions, some of which they say have been “extensively validated.”
The Journal of BiologicalChemistry used image analysis software to evaluate the images, first published at least a decade ago. Unfortunately, the raw data behind the problematic images were not available. The authors have also corrected a fourth paper in another journal, and wrote on PubPeer that they are working with journals to address concerns in three more.
The papers share two authors: Mireia Duñach at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, and Antonio García de Herreros at the Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mèdiques. A representative of the Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mèdiques told us it is looking into Garcia de Herreros’s work.
A researcher has agreed to a five-year ban on Federal U.S. funding for research after the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) determined that he had falsified or fabricated more than 40 images in nine papers.
Two journals have published six expressions of concern for a pair of biologists at Rowan University, and are asking the university to undertake an investigation.
We contacted the editors of the two journals — Journal of Cell Science and Biology Open — who both said they decided to flag the papers after a reader raised concerns about potential re-use of blot images. The six papers are co-authored by John G. Pastorino, a molecular biologist at Rowan University in New Jersey and Nataly Shulga, whose LinkedIn identifies her as a research specialist at the same institution. According to the nearly identical notes, the journals (which share a publisher) undertook a review of the original data, but “felt unable to resolve this matter.”
The expressions of concern — five from the Journal of Cell Science and one from Biology Open — include pretty much the same text. Here’s the note that appeared in JCS:
Researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in China have lost a paper in the Journal of Cell Science for “inappropriate figure manipulations,” which they blame entirely on the first author.
According to the notice, three figures were “inappropriately modified” — cells or nuclei were moved, and the edges of cell images were trimmed. The researchers place the responsibility on first author Liping Chen, claiming that “her co-authors were completely unaware.”
The modifications didn’t affect the conclusions, the note says, but after an investigation by Sun Yat-sen University, the journal decided to retract the paper. Liping Chen says she “regrets the inappropriate figure manipulations,” according to the note.
A biologist at University College London (UCL) has resigned his post and taken responsibility for “inappropriate figures manipulations” in three now-retracted papers.
Assegid Garedew, formerly a senior research investigator in Salvador Moncada‘s group, stepped down earlier this summer in the midst of an investigation that should be completed soon, Moncada tells Retraction Watch.
The three retraction notices for papers by Garedew and colleagues are all similar.
…an eye on what may be an emerging trend: The mega-correction. We’ve seen errata notices that correct so many different errors, it’s hard to believe the paper shouldn’t have been retracted. It’s unclear what this means yet, but watch this space for coverage of more examples.