Cell Press journals will not be retracting two papers that were flagged with expressions of concern (EOCs) in April after one author claimed to have manipulated some experiments.
In a strange turn of events, as we previously reported, the study’s corresponding author refuted the claims of the author who confessed to fraud, citing concerns about his “motives and credibility.” Since then, two independent labs repeated the authors’ experiments, and “largely confirm” the central conclusions of a Cell paper, but were inconclusive regarding a paper in Molecular Cell. Regardless, in both cases, the journals have decided to take no further action.
Both expressions of concern (and their associated editorial notes) will remain online, as part of the “permanent record,” a Cell Press spokesperson told us.
Cell Press has dismissed accusations of image manipulation in two well-cited papers.
In June 2015, we reported that the publisher was investigating anonymous allegations of more than a dozen instances of manipulation of images in the papers published in Cell and Molecular Cell in 1999 and 2001, respectively.
After assessing the original high-resolution versions of images from the laboratory notebook of Maria Pia Cosma, the first author of both papers, the journals have not found enough evidence to determine that fraud had occurred.
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.
Normally, when we see disputes over fraud allegations, it’s one author accusing another — but an unusual case at Cell has recently crossed our desk.
The journal has flagged a paper after an author confessed to committing fraud himself — but the corresponding author is disputing that confession, citing concerns about the confessor’s “motives and credibility.”
Independent labs are repeating the experiments to determine if the third author on the paper did, as he so claims, manipulate experiments. In the meantime, Cell and Molecular Cell have issued expressions of concern (EOCs) for two papers on which Yao-Yun Liang was a co-author. The notices cite an inquiry at Baylor College of Medicine, where the work was done, which was inconclusive, and recommended the journals take no action about the papers.
Cell Press is looking into anonymous allegations that a pair of influential papers on gene activation in yeast may contain more than two dozen instances of image manipulation, according to a spokesperson for the journal.