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Good practices

A series of irregularities

Tumor Biology, the official journal of the International Society of Oncology and Biomarkers, decided to retract a paper after it uncovered a series of irregularities both in content and in the list of authors. Published in June 2014 by a group of 12 researchers from China, the multicenter study explored the relationship between neutropenia, which is a blood disorder characterized by a low neutrophil count, and invasive fungal infection in 2,177 patients from China who had hematological diseases that had been treated with chemotherapy. One of the paper’s conclusions was that treatment with antifungal drugs helps prevent the problem. The journal, published by Springer, found that the results of the article contained inaccurate or non-validated data, which precluded replication of the experiment. The other issues involved misconduct in the assignment of authorship and a lack of transparency. Some of the authors who took part in the study were not recognized as such and at least one corresponding author was not consulted about the inclusion of his name on the paper. Lastly, the group failed to credit Merck pharmaceutical laboratory for its sponsorship of the multicenter study. During the four months from publication to retraction, the article was not cited by any other study.