How much role did a potentially problematic paper play in the demise of a once-promising compound?
Researchers are questioning the validity of a high-profile article, published by Nature in 2006. Although the letter is 12 years old, the concerns have current implications: It was among the early evidence used to develop a cancer compound that recently failed a number of clinical trials.
It’s unclear whether the problems with the paper — if validated — could have contributed to the compound’s demise. But an outside expert has some thoughts — and so do image experts and multiple external reports, including one released this month, which agree the concerns about the figures have merit. (The first author’s ex-husband isn’t too happy with the article, either.)
PNAS has corrected a highly cited paper after an investigation found evidence of misconduct.
The investigation—conducted jointly by the University of California, San Francisco, and the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center—uncovered image manipulation in Figure 2D, which “could only have occurred intentionally.” The institutions, however, could not definitively attribute the research misconduct to any individual.
According to the notice, the UCSF-VA committee determined that a correction to the 2008 PNAS paper—which explores the genetic underpinnings of prostate cancer—was “appropriate,” and the authors have now replaced the problematic figure with a corrected version. The 2008 paper has been cited 630 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.
A cancer researcher based at The Ohio State University has retracted five papers from one journal, citing concerns about figures.
The notices for all five papers state the Journal of Biological Chemistry raised questions about some figures, and the authors were not able to supply raw data in all instances. Four of the notices say the authors offered to submit data from repeat experiments and corrected figures, which the journal declined.
According to Kaoru Sakabe, data integrity manager at JBC, the authors “agreed to withdraw these articles after we declined their offers.”
Molecular and Cellular Biology has retracted four papers published between 1987 to 2001 by Alfredo Fusco, a cancer researcher in Italy; the Journal of Virology retracted one 1985 paper. Fusco was first author on two papers and last author on three. Both journals are published by The American Society for Microbiology (ASM), which issued identical retraction notices for all five papers, mentioning “evidence of apparent manipulation and duplication.”
Carlo Croce, a cancer researcher now at the Ohio State University, who has been dogged by misconduct allegations, co-authored one of the papers. Croce now has eight retractions.
A pharmacy journal has retracted a 2017 cancer paper after determining that the lead author forged her co-author’s signature.
Alain Li Wan Po, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, told Retraction Watch that, after discovering the forgery,the journal lost confidence in “the integrity of the whole report,” and decided to retract it:
Our judgment was that if an author is willing to forge a signature, we cannot be sure of the integrity of the whole report and decided on the retraction.
According to Po, the paper’s lead author, Yan Wang, objected to the retraction because “she maintained that the data were accurate.” So the editors retracted the paper without her approval — but with the agreement of the author Jatinder Lamba, whose name was forged.
How did the journal discover the forged signature?