As a journal editor, are you tired of hearing the same excuses from authors who are facing allegations of problematic data? If so, you’re not alone.
Recently, an editor of the journal Oncogeneco-authored an editorial in the journal listing the types of excuses he often hears — and why none of them is valid. Writing the article with editor Justin Stebbing of Imperial College/Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust is David Sanders of Purdue University. Sanders himself has raised allegations of misconduct against a cancer researcher (and is currently being sued for defamation as a result).
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University of Maryland sent to 11 journals regarding 26 “compromised” papers co-authored by Jaiswal, four of which had been retracted by the time of the letter.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.
The thing is, the investigation concluded in 2012, and the paper — “miR-661 expression in SNAI1-induced epithelial to mesenchymal transition contributes to breast cancer cell invasion by targeting Nectin-1 and StarD10 messengers” — isn’t being retracted until next week.
According to Lucinda Haines, senior publishing manager at Nature Publishing Group, the paper will be retracted June 29.
We heard from Iris Behrmann, Head of the Life Sciences Research Unit at the University of Luxembourg:
A prestigious cancer journal has pulled an article over “concerns” regarding some of the figures, which PubPeer commenters had tagged as suspect.
A few weeks after the paper was published on June 9, comments on PubPeer began accumulating. Commenters called out both potentially manipulated and repeated images. The exact timeline is not clear, because Oncogene does not list a date on the retraction notice, but by August 29 the paper had been retracted.
Here’s the notice for “IL-6 secreted by cancer-associated fibroblasts induces tamoxifen resistance in luminal breast cancer,” by researchers at Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine and Ruijin Hospital, both in Shanghai, China, and the University of Michigan: Continue reading Fudged figures sink breast cancer paper