Two journals are retracting papers published by researchers affiliated with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).
To be frank, we’re baffled by most of this story. The retraction notices say “the institution” requested the retractions, but don’t name it; the first and last authors are also affiliated with the University of Southern California, as well as CHLA. Neither journal will say which institution sent the request, and USC and CHLA have each declined to comment on the retractions.
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University of Maryland sent to 11 journals regarding 26 “compromised” papers co-authored by Jaiswal, four of which had been retracted by the time of the letter.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.
A journal has retracted another paper by a graduate student formerly based at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, after she spontaneously confessed to fabricating data.
As we reported in April 2016, principal investigator Florence Marlow alerted the institution’s Office of Research Integrity and two journals about Meredyth Forbes’s admission, prompting an investigation into the extent of the data manipulation.
Three papers were affected: In January 2016, Development flagged one paper with an expression of concern, alerting readers to the potential issues with the data while the authors and Research Integrity Office investigated the scope of the problem. In April 2016, another paper was retracted by Cell Reports; the third, also published in Development, received a correction.
The report flagged eight published papers (and an unpublished one), six of which had already received expressions of concern (EOCs). Nataly Shulga was a co-author on all eight papers. With these two new retractions in Biology Open and Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) – Bioenergetics, all of the flagged papers have now been retracted.
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:
Cancer biologist Rakesh Kumar has chalked up another retraction, this time for “identical,” “duplicated,” and “replicated” figures and images.
It comes on the heels of a flurry of motions in Kumar’s $8 million lawsuit against his employer, George Washington University, for breach of contract and emotional distress because it removed him as department chair last year and placed his research on hold. Kumar remains employed by the university.