A justice researcher messaged us right after reading our post (Working Hand in Glove: Scientific Ghostwriting Company and the Predatory Journal Targeting Chinese Authors) that he had discovered similar issues earlier this year, and had contacted the Editor-in-Chief of the journals. However, they never replied to him, and never investigated further into the issue. Here comes the whole story.
From: Ian RD
Subject: Follow up on the post regarding plagiarism of Chinese authors
I am writing to express my sincere appreciation for your work on investigating the plagiarism of Chinese authors.
In my humble opinion, what you discovered may just be the tip of an iceberg. I discovered similar issues earlier this year regarding two papers published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy and Tumor Biology. I have contacted the Editor-in-Chief of the two journals. However, they never replied me, nor investigated the issue further.
Below please find my email to the Editor-in-Chief, along with the specific issues regarding the papers.
On Tue, May 31, 2016 at 7:55 PM, Ian RD wrote:
Dear Dr. Stigbrand,
I am writing this email to report a possible misconduct regarding a paper published in Tumor Biology (TB), in which you serve as the editor-in-chief. The paper is entitled “miR-143 inhibits tumor progression by targeting FAM83F in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma”, and was published on January 13, 2016 (doi:10.1007/s13277-015-4760-9).
This manuscript is highly similar to another paper published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy (B&P) entitled “MiR-1290 promotes cancer progression by targeting nuclear factor I/X(NFIX) in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC)” (doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2015.10.005). These two papers are authored by a same group of authors, and were submitted to the two different journals on the same date (Aug. 22, 2015), as per information provided on the papers.
In particular, these two papers contain large amount of verbatim texts, with the only difference being the name of the miRNA of interest (miR-1290 vs. miR-143). For example, a part of the abstract of the B&P paper (“Since microRNA … to regulate FAM83F expression”) is almost identical to the abstract of the TB paper (“Since microRA … to regulate NFIX expression”). The Material and Methods and Result sections are highly similar between the two papers, with a lot of verbatim sentences. Such act may constitutes self-plagiarism and may not be tolerated in a highly reputable journal like Tumor Biology.
More seriously, I noticed that a number of figure panels are identical between the two papers, which suggests that the authors may falsified the figures or used the same data to support two different conclusions. For example, the Figure 6B, 7B, and 8B are exactly the same between the two papers, even for the error bars. Such act of possible data falsification or re-use without proper reference should also not be tolerated in your journal.
Taken together, I found a number of red flags for scientific misconduct in the aforementioned paper. I was wondering if you, as the editor-in-chief, and the Journal could formally look into this matter, and take appropriate actions regarding this paper if necessary. I included the links to the two papers for your reference.
Thanks for your attention and all the best,
***End of the email***
It would be appreciated if you could investigate this issue further and expose such act, which seriously violated academic ethics.
Thanks and best regards,
This e-mail was sent from a contact form on Plagiarism Watch (http://plagiarismwatch.org)
Edited by Lindsey W