Academic Publishing Guest post Research integrity

Society journal Bioscience Reports, ravaged

The society journal Bioscience Reports fell prey to many fraudulent papers. Cheshire counted around 50 with problematic figures, just for the last year.

Cheshire” is not a scientist, not even a former one. Lucky guy. Undeterred by the opinions of the scientific elites and their academic power, Cheshire does a great job in exposing falsified science, on Twitter, on PubPeer, and also on my site (see this previous guest post).

Now, Cheshire stumbled over a learned society journal, Bioscience Reports, published by the Biochemical Society in UK. It seems the journal has been infiltrated by fraudsters, many papers from 2019-2020 period contain falsified data. Most of them happen to fare from China, which might indicate a pattern of a paper mill. Such a mill generates fictional research papers out of thin air, complete with fabricated data and fake figures, the paying customer is usually some Chinese hospital clinician who needs English-language peer reviewed research papers for promotion, that being the law in China.

It is however not enough to generate a fake paper, the work of fiction must also be submitted to a journal and pass peer review. Some paper mills seem to offer also this service, including throw-away email addresses and even ORCID accounts. A number of scholarly journals with respectable publishers became, unwittingly or not, easy prey before. A suspicion arises each time if a corruptible editor might have helped.

The Editor-in-Chief of Bioscience Reports is presently Wanjin Hong, professor at A*STAR, Singapore. Who replied to my inquiry about 50 in part very fraudulent papers in his journal with:

My term as EiC is ending soon so I will leave this to the new team and the office.”

The journal’s Managing Editor, Zara Manwaring, explained this surprising statement:

I can confirm that Professor Wanjin Hong’s term as Editor in Chief is not ending as a result of these flagged papers, this was coincidental. So far we have not identified a common handling Associate Editor for these papers, but we will be continuing to review the flagged papers to see if a common Associate Editor emerges. We intend to make a further announcement when we have more information

Manwaring also stated:

The Journal has been investigating a number of submissions that we suspect are from paper mills. We’ve identified several patterns in these submissions and have been rejecting these without review. While our current processes have screened out some paper mills, we are learning from the current cases and are in the process of considering revised policy and requirements for submitted papers. We will also be looking into all of the flagged papers to determine if there are any additional patterns we can see in these publications, which we can then further use to determine whether a submission may have come from a paper mill.

But now, over to Cheshire.


Can You Stand On Your Head?

More Misadventures of a Non-Scientist 

By “Cheshire” (@Thatsregrettab1)

Dr. Schneider kindly invited me to again share some of my experiences as a non-scientist in the world of scientific research integrity. In this post, I delve into the dizzying array of problem papers published in the last 12 monthly issues of journal Bioscience Reports.

Published by Portland Press for the London-based Biochemical Society, a banner now warns readers that there are “potential issues” with the “scientific validity” of “some articles….” oh, here, read it for yourself: 

Here’s that text if you can’t see the image: 

Important notice

Portland Press and the Editorial Board of Bioscience Reports has been made aware of potential issues surrounding the scientific validity of some articles published in the Journal. In accordance with COPE guidelines, we are investigating these as a priority and are contacting the authors of the affected articles to obtain additional data and information that will inform our ongoing investigation. We will provide updates on our investigation and take appropriate action on the affected papers as soon as possible.

All papers at Bioscience Reports are peer reviewed with an Associate Editor and two independent reviewers assessing the paper. Additional measures have immediately been put in place during the editorial process to carry out additional checks on papers. Please be assured that Portland Press are doing all that they can to resolve these issues and correct the scientific record as soon as possible.

This is a long British-y polite way of saying: we’ve been publishing crap for the last 12 months (at least).

Here’s the background: A few weeks back, I stumbled on a 2018 Bioscience Reports paper flagged by pseudonymous PubPeer user Indigofera Tanganyikensis, also known as Morty (here is his guest post). 

A screenshot of a cell phone

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This is a pretty standard image overlap and we see these all the time in many journals. I looked at this paper and found another problem with a subsequent figure:

A screenshot of a cell phone

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The author did reply to Indigo saying the error was because of “no systematic folder management,” but later clarifying that they meant to “apologize for the confusion of file naming.” While the two errors might be the result of sloppy image file management, I take author responses like this with a grain of salt. Fortunately, when the author contacts the journal, their editorial process will do their best to determine if this was an error (erratum) or evidence of misconduct (retraction). Right? One would hope.

I was not already familiar with the journal Bioscience Reports but found that this journal was published by the Biochemical Society. 

“Founded in 1911, the Biochemical Society exists to advance molecular bioscience, promoting its importance as an academic discipline, from grassroots level to government policy, and highlighting its role in positively effecting societal challenges.” 

Sounded impressive, until I started reading more papers.

One from 2017, doesn’t look like an accident to me (repeated image, although annotated differently and with different horizontal dimensions), but what do I know? I’m no scientist:

Intrigued by finding this second paper, I decided to be more systematic in my review. 

I started looking at journal papers published in 2020 about 3 weeks ago and have moved backward chronologically to almost the beginning of 2019. I have now posted about 50 Bioscience Reports papers on PubPeer that may have image problems (list at the end). Some are probably accidental, some are probably deliberate, on some I’m probably wrong. But 50.

As the list grew, I started tweeting about my findings and soliciting input from followers when I was not sure:

And to my surprise, the journal’s publisher responded on Twitter:

It was really nice to hear from the publisher at all and also that they were looking into these based only on my tweaking them on Twitter. I hadn’t (yet) corresponded with them via email; more on that in a minute. Most journals and editors don’t interact with me on Twitter, partly because I support Leonid’s efforts (if not always his style), although some will via DM or email. Most authors don’t even reply on PubPeer, let alone on Twitter. Not very many take it as far as David Sabatini:

PubPeer may have had a role at some point, but as far as I can tell, is now a platform for resentful, anonymous, petty, failed scientists to harass those who actually make discoveries

Or Gary Stacey:

But back at Bioscience Reports I found still more, helped by Forensically software and Hoya Camphorifolia.

Two microscopy images in Figure 4A appear to be of the same set of cells at different magnification. Lin et al 2020
Liu et al 2020
the bands look like they are floating on background. And after using a thresholding tool the uniformity of the bands become more apparent. Deng et al 2020
Pixels from TUNNEL-positive cells in Blank and Sham group clearly do not fit in the image and one of the positive cells in the last micrograph has a “window” with different colors. Liu et al 2020

Sometimes, I’m not sure what I’m seeing is really wrong, and on a few, the author Shengnan Xia has already replied (if not always in a convincing way):

The bands on the Western blots in this paper had the misfortune of landing on a membrane with a repeated background. Yang & Xia 2020

We are also very sorry for this problem. To verify our research results, we re-run the WB experiment and re-tested the protein, and contacted the magazine to correct the picture.

As I went along, I started postulating about why this journal is so messed up. Could it be a papermill?

Or maybe it’s a predatory journal?

the tissue is described as coming from two different animal groups. Zhang & Kang 2020

Then the journal’s Managing Editor Zara Manwaring got in touch with me:

Dear Cheshire,

Many thanks for agreeing to speak with us about these papers. I firstly wanted to let you know that we will be looking into all of these as a priority and will be taking appropriate action according to COPE guidelines and the advice of the Editorial Board. The Journal is taking this very seriously and we are planning to make several changes to prevent the publication of further fraudulent data and duplicated images. We’ve immediately introduced additional checks upon initial submission to the journal and upon acceptance to try and identify these prior to publication. We are also currently reviewing all of the figures of the papers that have been accepted and/or are currently with our production department.

The Journal has been investigating a number of papers that we suspect are from paper mills and we have been able to identify and reject many of these before peer review. Patterns that we have seen include:

  • authors with multiple accounts, each with a different non-institutional email address and a single submission
  • cover letters that follow the same layout and content pattern
  • unrelated papers with identical reviewer suggestions
  • biomarker papers that include 1-3 tables and 2 figures (usually a ROC curve)

[…]

Their list includes many of the red flags previously identified by Elisabeth Bik, as well as the pseudonymous Smut ClydeMorty and Tiger BB8,  and discussed in The full-service paper mill and its Chinese customers. This is probably a different paper mill than those previously identified, but the tactics appear similar.

The breadth of the problem caused me to continue to poke at the poor journal, suggesting their tagline “Your Home for Sound Scientific Research” must be ironic:

And taking some morbid satisfaction in seeing that one of the papers featured in the Most Cited list on their site had numerous problems too:

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Mao et al 2017, second most-cited paper!
Extra analysis by Hoya camphorifolia
A close up of a map

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Below are some of the more interesting “finds” (with the acknowledgement that I may be wrong). Clicking on the image should send you to the PubPeer post.

Hoya Camphorifolia arrived to help!
“Fig 4C. Zooming in on one frame at random…”

The journal has problems, that is clear, but what are they to do about it? Here were my initial recommendations/opinions for the journal (original typos corrected) as shared with the managing editor:

“[M]y thoughts and experience in these efforts are limited. In one of my tweets I urged you to contact Dr. Elisabeth Bik. She has guided me so that I’m able to catch and properly flag many things, but her experience and skills are far beyond my own. If I were you, I would seriously seek to engage her professionally.

That said, here are some thoughts, somewhat in order of how I approach papers in your journal.

  • Authors affiliated with Chinese* hospitals: Based on experience and information from Chinese researchers, these are high risk papers. Apparently MDs at Chinese hospitals need to get research published in international journals (non-Chinese) in order to advance their career. Unfortunately, most lack the time, training, fluency in English, and lab resources to get research published so they turn to outside labs and paper mills. As you note, most of these authors publish only a single paper.
  • Chinese researchers: Researchers in China receive cash bonuses for getting papers published. Although this is rumored to have recently changed, some prolific authors from China seem to have gotten away with sloppy or fraudulent research for a long time. If I find one bad paper from a researcher, I’ll often find more… this is generally true for researchers from any country.
  • Images: My only expertise (such as it is) is in finding problematic images. For papers that are mostly genetics, statistics, or math, I’m not much use. If I were you, I would turn to people with expertise in finding misconduct in each of these areas, such as Nick Brown or James Heathers on statistics. 
  • Western blots: In papers from 2012 and before, standards were different and the PubPeer moderators frown on us flagging older papers with splicing issues. Post 2012, I do look for evidence of differential splicing and flag those. I seldom catch manufactured blots, but as you’ve seen some have repeating backgrounds or reused bands and I’ll flag those when I catch them.”

* A note: references to “Chinese” researchers has been challenged on Twitter as phrasing that might be interpreted as racism. My view is that I am here identifying the country of origin of the affiliated institution (China) not a researcher’s ethnicity, which I don’t even know. You may disagree with this view… good for you.

the images are not identical suggesting that they may share the same source but have been edited. Zhang et al 2019
Helped by Hoya Camphorifolia

The journal did get back to me, but apparently my suggestion that they hire Dr. Bik was not acted upon. Coincidentally or maybe ironically, another Portland Press title, The Biochemist, just ran a profile piece on Dr. Bik. The lack of self awareness is strong in this one. We will have to see how the journal deals with this, but based on their correspondence with me, I anticipate a number of Expressions of Concern to show up soon and probably some retractions… although in following COPE guidelines, journals usually take a long time to take down papers.

I do regret my suggestion that someone at the journal should be fired over this, but there seems to be something really broken here. How is it possible that a non-scientist, in their free time, for free, can identify ~50 possible papers with errors in about 3 weeks. It’s frustrating, but some of us have anger management issues.

The assay images in Figure 9A contain multiple repeating features. Zhao et al 2019

I do want to thank the large number of Twitter users who responded to my pleas “Help with another?” That list includes: @TigerBB8, @SmutClyde, @OKalliokoski, @schneiderleonid, @MicrobiomDigest, @mortenoxe@mlsmith55, @science_surf, @brnncaetano, @akaknijn

Luo et al 2019
Several bands in figure 3 a show a similar mark in a similar location. This suggests that these bands may be repeated. Song et al 2020
The GAPDH band in Figure 2G has a very different appearance than the other bands in this figure Gao et al 2019
Two plots in figure 3 appear to include an unexpectedly large number of identically placed data points, including several that fall outside the plot area Gong et al 2019
Originally flagged by Elisabeth Bik. Guo et al 2019
Tang et al 2019
Qiang et al 2019
Sino-Russian collaboration: Kapora et al 2019
Wang et al 2019
One paper is from Finland and has no Chinese authors: Adusei-Mensah et 2020
Pang et al 2020
Some of the Western Blot images unusually seem to share background features between bands Xie et al 2020
Wang et al 2020
Two images in figure 8C appear to overlap. Area of overlap indicated with red boxes. However, the two images are not identical. There are some regions were the images differ (circled). Wei et al 2020
Figure 2C appears to have some repeated features, shown in red and green across several images. However, there are also some differences between these images shown with arrows. Li et al 2020
Tsai et al 2019
Liu et al 2019
Meng & Yu 2019
Yu et al 2019
Helped by Hoya Camphorifolia. Gao et al 2019
Yan et al 2019

OK, enough flogging that dead horse.

List of papers posted (so far):

10.1042/bsr20181815https://pubpeer.com/publications/76C5E5DF09982C87F1AF7233662A8A
10.1042/bsr20181016https://pubpeer.com/publications/2A781C82AE2AF870D400B4A7F9C9ED
10.1042/bsr20190976https://pubpeer.com/publications/A7A63AD60A6F5159AB1CE70D9BBA37
10.1042/bsr20190159https://pubpeer.com/publications/4B45BBF2CA09D4180FB1917F6F6EB2
10.1042/bsr20190459https://pubpeer.com/publications/828868B064CD18528A3F0169F1B406
10.1042/bsr20191221https://pubpeer.com/publications/641C16EDCF0ECD98C7E951A8F70B2B
10.1042/bsr20181788https://pubpeer.com/publications/9CDF1FE4818DA2EE566A9ED49408C4
10.1042/bsr20190384https://pubpeer.com/publications/94819D8FA0646EAB1120E202A4F9FB
10.1042/bsr20190516https://pubpeer.com/publications/0B2FFE276BDF153540032003F52526Author explaination looks OK
10.1042/bsr20182042https://pubpeer.com/publications/ADC9C9F5D1FB967607E4EE25A38977Author explanation, don’t know if OK
10.1042/bsr20182196https://pubpeer.com/publications/9675B48ADAA4CEAD6AB0F689C7C3B0
10.1042/bsr20191123https://pubpeer.com/publications/A392DB5A7FA826ECC6B5C9070D54BA
10.1042/bsr20190094https://pubpeer.com/publications/B12E2CD5369D04EC1B2B20B7504AF3
10.1042/bsr20190198https://pubpeer.com/publications/EB4AAB9E8D63F3E2039893EB9FDD54
10.1042/bsr20190700https://pubpeer.com/publications/0DF8BFB742FC4F674838D321983506
10.1042/bsr20190724https://pubpeer.com/publications/39913CEFCBE8886470B3D7FFC374C1
10.1042/bsr20171070 https://pubpeer.com/publications/E9EF7A1C1EF19C1C3CC848227126D7
10.1042/bsr20182476https://pubpeer.com/publications/B37F010F350548683DE25BD48E5E76
10.1042/bsr20181852https://pubpeer.com/publications/0C4FB28F85D523083A893F96E746EE
10.1042/bsr20190819https://pubpeer.com/publications/10152D0B680D6C9105E906D3156292
10.1042/bsr20190415https://pubpeer.com/publications/363805EC1B61150435F188F8C472FB
10.1042/bsr20190503https://pubpeer.com/publications/1658E6EE88145409AAC7D5D22B510D
10.1042/bsr20190362https://pubpeer.com/publications/339CDD46E4E9A929C6135446B46C5A
10.1042/bsr20180479https://pubpeer.com/publications/E0C720253563DA6A366CCCCB7C0862
10.1042/bsr20190152https://pubpeer.com/publications/18966A1568C5EB91ED459E6AEBC51D
10.1042/bsr20180896https://pubpeer.com/publications/49B4B4921AB82190C18491DFD53C84
10.1042/bsr20181716https://pubpeer.com/publications/B433527931AFED310988AA2B9C9448
10.1042/bsr20193031https://pubpeer.com/publications/C79082D9E8FBEA5955EFB41BA48897Author plans correction
10.1042/bsr20191271https://pubpeer.com/publications/F7DE86D64CFD040F80479D81DD1DE5
10.1042/bsr20194427https://pubpeer.com/publications/CB37BBDC2BDB88E08FDBB34B25BD1F
10.1042/bsr20200743https://pubpeer.com/publications/A97B4F58BD3E6FBFE09F5FBFC9BC53Author plans correction
10.1042/bsr20191041https://pubpeer.com/publications/EFC65D970C5B5E927631DB55E9B66C
10.1042/bsr20193515https://pubpeer.com/publications/B4BC699B0F92B844A51B9FEA81E90D
10.1042/bsr20191136https://pubpeer.com/publications/AE86FA196CD7588F2923E6BF27C602
10.1042/bsr20191961https://pubpeer.com/publications/01C927CB9041B6566135D25A217B41
10.1042/bsr20200221https://pubpeer.com/publications/FD985E8DA333266B603A3692209839
10.1042/bsr20190397https://pubpeer.com/publications/83C8E03A185BD65D77FB2A0A1808C1
10.1042/bsr20200422https://pubpeer.com/publications/27FBF2244B86B161EFD8AA4EDAFEADAuthor plans correction
10.1042/bsr20192104https://pubpeer.com/publications/3C2419570DAD3357756F35AD66ACE8
10.1042/bsr20193431https://pubpeer.com/publications/60E531A0DD4AC66C76C7F93B793755
10.1042/bsr20192639https://pubpeer.com/publications/CE284AE26A32C8B78D097D55EBED75
10.1042/bsr20200723https://pubpeer.com/publications/0D27AF7822B03AFD82FE92F02F444B
10.1042/bsr20200566https://pubpeer.com/publications/446396714D544B9953AF77786015F2
10.1042/bsr20200559https://pubpeer.com/publications/2C112570B551877BF2E88212E1C422
10.1042/bsr20194237https://pubpeer.com/publications/280A7BCCB0553CC3B68A4DF987CE6E
10.1042/bsr20191370https://pubpeer.com/publications/93DC2A4CC90779DD2A8CF9DB193E34
10.1042/bsr20193800https://pubpeer.com/publications/2ECDE5834B47654E40F98EB783FEF1
10.1042/bsr20192536https://pubpeer.com/publications/CB5849639B5E0B331F03E4C360FBE0

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18 comments on “Society journal Bioscience Reports, ravaged

  1. An inside job? Perhaps, there are long-standing problems at A*STAR and NUS, which first came to prominence over the Melendez affair (https://retractionwatch.com/2011/10/24/national-university-of-singapore-official-who-co-authored-melendez-papers-wont-be-part-of-investigation/). Apart from dealing with the indefensible, that is when external organisation such as journals drive investigation, a minimum is done.
    I would argue that too many are complacent, judging the world from their own standpoint. That is, they cannot see why anyone would make up data and so are reluctant to do anything about it. Such a culture represents a fertile ground for a parasite, such as a fraudster.

    Blame the reviewer? Only in part, I am pretty useless at spotting fraud in blots, etc., and generally have only been successful due to ‘goto luck’, rather than skill on my part. Others are quite extraordinarily talented. So while I may be qualified to review the paper, I am not qualified to determine if there are image frauds (though, through Elisabeth Bik’s Twitter tutorials I am getting better, I am no better than 4th rate).

    Blame the system? Yes, given that the reviewers (we assume honest ones) are chosen for their scientific expertise, they may not have the skills to spot duplications.

    Pay the Reviewer? Not the academic ones, this is part of the job, but people who are skilled at spotting image fakery? Yes, this would be a great investment. Only by proactively chasing the frauds, starting at both ends: new submissions and published papers, and if detailed explanations are not forthcoming, instant retractions for the latter can a journal and a learned society maintain and indeed enhance its reputation, as ASBMB have done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Prof Wanjin Hong asked me to pass on this message to Prof Dave Fernig:

      “This is an challenging issue being faced by the journal and we will resolve it.
      However, linking this event to A*star and NUS or to previous situation is not justifiable as Bioscience reports has no direct link with A*STAR or NUS or previous case other than I have been the editor in chief for many years (since 2008 for 12 years!). This happened unfortunately but we all will learn from this incident as the editorial team is looking very extensively and carefully to see the cause of this.”

      Like

      • I agree that there’s no evidence of collusion from inside the journal (editors or journal staff). However, that this went on for so long without anyone involved noticing is very puzzling. I don’t know if ‘lax oversight’ is better or worse than the possibility that someone associated with the journal helped get all this published.

        ~Cheshire 😼

        Like

      • It is as if for most journals everyone is long past caring. American Chemical Society (ACS) is the most bizarre example. Cherished by chemists above all, they unleash lawyers on everyone illegally downloading their papers. While even the worst fraudster is most welcome and can count on ACS’ accommodating leniency.
        Even a sexual harasser like D Gopi.
        https://forbetterscience.com/2019/12/26/zombie-fingers-inside-corroded-nano-piecrusts/

        Like

      • ACS pubs leaders also report million dollar a year salaries, so I guess any threat to this model must be defended with expensive lawyers. The view of many is that the ACS is merely an attractive facade for ACS pubs to declare tax-exempt status:

        http://chemjobber.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-latest-acs-form-990.html

        I look forward to the day where this system of tax-supported production of crappy data in laboratories led by irresponsible, overpaid, and egotistic faculty and administrators, published by tax-exempt publishing companies where the leaders make millions a year, crashes and burns. A better system needs to be in place where lazy retards dont profit.

        Like

  2. I guess I don’t see this situation of a particular country, or countries, generating a lot of fraudulent work changing because the incentives are too strong for them to do it. They are going to want to publish their, er, “papers” somewhere. I think the best we can do at this point is identify which journals have been corrupted, contaminated, whatever word you want (I need to get a life with Garey Stacey), and consider them lost…..forever……

    I fear one of my favorite journals, Molecular Immunology, has succumbed to this fate. Its sort of like seeing a friend coming down with cancer or COVID 19: you feel very sad, but there is absolutely nothing you can do. Sort of like the delightful Tiger Lillies singing “Corona was a beer once” on their latest album.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia Murray

    Dear Cheshire, thank you for highlighting these problematic papers. At least the publisher has responded in this case and hopefully it might help to improve the standards of integrity at this journal going forwards.

    For journals that refuse to take appropriate action, a great solution would be if the scientific community came together and stopped publishing in those.

    Maybe it would be good if there was a database where people log when they report a problem with an article (giving the name of the journal and publisher) and then update when/if a response is obtained and record what action is taken (if any). This could be a way to score journals on their research integrity standards.

    Maybe this score could take over from the impact factor?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have the greatest respect for those who devote so much energy to tracking down this garbage and tracing it to the sources that pop up and grow back like hydra heads. Reading about these issues has made me a better reviewer. Thankfully, I don’t review for journals that get totally fake stuff, but I have scotched several papers based on dodgy data. When I have bothered to look, I have noticed that many of those papers have eventually been published in lower-ranked journals, in most cases with the authors not bothering to fix even the most glaring errors pointed out by reviewers. So it seems that those who don’t give a crap about doing good science can always find some journal willing to stuff their pages with slack, lazy, muddled stuff. And below them lies the vast muck of the fraudiverse. We can wring our hands about who’s at fault, and the blame extends throughout the publication chain. Nevertheless, I agree that – outright psychopathology aside – the driving force behind the publication of lousy and fake papers is a toxic synergy between a desire for career advancement by authors and a hunger for fees by journals. Thus the best way to stop this lies with the institutions that host and support science: fire/defund slackers and fakers when exposed, and cancel subscriptions to journals that enable them.

    Like

    • You can’t cancel subscription to a specific journal, because Elsevier et al sell them in bundle packages.
      And then: How does one cancel subscription to an OA journal?

      Liked by 1 person

      • If we treat this as an economic issue, the upper hand lies with the sources of funding and the payers of subscriptions. If subscribers get together and tell Elsevier that it has been openly demonstrated that X% of your bundled journals are mostly fraudulent/non-reproducible/crap and/or that this accounts for X% of papers in all of your journals, they can offer to pay X% less in fees, and they should be supported by their respective legal systems with the threat of prosecution for fraud. Same logic applies to those who fund researchers; ideally they should get their money back from known garbage-pushers, but at the very least they should cut them out of the funding system as soon as detected. That will take care of the pay-to-publish-crap crowd. Morality is a wonderful thing, but follow the money.

        Like

      • Nice idea, but I don’t think it will make a difference. The people who commit fraud will just be more careful in covering themselves up. As long as universities expect grant money and give high rewards (great pay, job security) to the people that get them (tenured faculty), and the rest of the jobs supporting these individuals (the data generators) are clearly much crappier, this will occur. No one wants to be a post-doc for life, unless they have a lot of will, or a willful idiot (I’m in the later category here).

        I think it would help a lot of tenured faculty would more carefully monitor/help data generation from the data generators, but that has never happened in the 5-6 labs in the US I have worked in. To some degree, I believe the winners of the system (faculty, administrators) get what the deserve: in general, too much irreproducible crap, and, because of this, a public getting more increasingly skeptical of them (dislike-contempt of the ivory tower), and science in general. Too bad tenured faculty cannot be easily fired for reneging on their responsibilities for careful generation of data, that might help a little.

        Like

  5. Patricia Murray

    A model I would like to see is one where Universities paid a subscription to reputable publishers (ideally not-for-profit publishers) and this allowed access to all journals and enabled scientists at the university to publish without paying a fee. But in this model, the publisher also would alos make its articles free for members of the public to access. This sort of arrangement would quickly get rid of all the predetory publishers who survive on the publication charges they get from authors.

    This would then stop all of those tiresome emails that we are being bombarded with on a daily basis.

    Like

  6. Owlbert: I agree that the funders are the big hammer in this situation.

    Personally, I think government funding of research creates a very poor incentive system since no one really cares if the money spent generates good published research.

    Similarly, public institutions that consume research publications and pay open-access fees don’t appear super-critical of the quality of the published research. Maybe pandemic-caused budgetary constraints will help (a little).

    ~Cheshire

    Like

  7. Zebedee

    Twenty-three (23) 2020 Expressions of Concern Biosci. Rep.

    1

    Expression of Concern: TET1 exerts its tumor suppressor function by regulating autophagy in glioma cells.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jul 31;40(7):BSR-20160523_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20160523_EOC.
    PMID: 32614064 No abstract available.
    Cite
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    2

    Expression of Concern: miR-26a prevents neural stem cells from apoptosis via β-catenin signaling pathway in cardiac arrest-induced brain damage.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jul 31;40(7):BSR-20181635_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20181635_EOC.
    PMID: 32614063 No abstract available.
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    3

    Expression of Concern: Capsaicin inhibits migration and invasion via the AMPK/NF-kB signaling pathway in esophagus sequamous cell carcinoma by decreasing matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jul 31;40(7):BSR-20190819_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20190819_EOC.
    PMID: 32614062 No abstract available.
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    4

    Expression of Concern: LncRNA SRA1 is downregulated in HPV-negative cervical squamous cell carcinoma (CSCC) and regulates cancer cell behaviors.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jul 31;40(7):BSR-20191226_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20191226_EOC.
    PMID: 32614061 No abstract available.
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    5

    Expression of Concern: microRNA-613 exerts anti-angiogenic effect on nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells through inactivating the AKT signaling pathway by downregulating FN1.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jul 31;40(7):BSR-20182196_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20182196_EOC.
    PMID: 32614060 No abstract available.
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    6

    Expression of Concern: Role of Microvascular endothelial cells on proliferation, migration and adhesion of hematopoietic stem cells.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jul 31;40(7):BSR-20192104_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20192104_EOC.
    PMID: 32614059 No abstract available.
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    7

    Expression of Concern: MicroRNA-144-3p inhibits High Glucose induced Cell proliferation through Suppressing FGF16.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jul 31;40(7):BSR-20181788_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20181788_EOC.
    PMID: 32614058 No abstract available.
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    8

    Expression of Concern: α-bisabolol enhances radiotherapy-induced apoptosis in endometrial cancer cells by reducing the effect of XIAP on inhibiting caspase-3.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jul 31;40(7):BSR-20190696_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20190696_EOC.
    PMID: 32614057 No abstract available.
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    9

    Expression of Concern: MicroRNA-505-5p functions as a tumor suppressor by targeting Cyclin-Dependent Kinase 5 in cervical cancer.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jul 31;40(7):BSR-20191221_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20191221_EOC.
    PMID: 32614056 No abstract available.
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    10

    Expression of Concern: Isorhamnetin inhibited migration and invasion via suppression of Akt/ERK-mediated epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in A549 human non-small cell lung cancer cells.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jul 31;40(7):BSR-20190159_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20190159_EOC.
    PMID: 32602541 No abstract available.
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    Page 2

    11

    Expression of Concern: Upregulation of microRNA-497-5p inhibits colorectal cancer cell proliferation and invasion via targeting PTPN3.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jun 26;40(6):BSR-20191123_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20191123_EOC.
    PMID: 32588906 No abstract available.
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    12

    Expression of Concern: microRNA-217 suppressed epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition through targeting PTPN14 in gastric cancer.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jun 26;40(6):BSR-20193176_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20193176_EOC.
    PMID: 32588905 No abstract available.
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    13

    Expression of Concern: Downregulation of microRNA-142-3p inhibits the aggressive phenotypes of rheumatoid arthritis fibroblast-like synoviocytes through inhibiting Nuclear factor-kappa B signaling.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jun 26;40(6):BSR-20190700_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20190700_EOC.
    PMID: 32584394 Free PMC article. No abstract available.
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    14

    Expression of Concern: Upregulation of microRNA-148a inhibits proliferation, invasion and migration while promoting apoptosis of cervical cancer cells by downregulating RRS1.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jun 26;40(6):BSR-20181815_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20181815_EOC.
    PMID: 32584393 Free PMC article. No abstract available.
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    15

    Expression of Concern: LncRNA MALAT1 up-regulates VEGF-A and ANGPT2 to promote angiogenesis in brain microvascular endothelial cells against oxygen-glucose deprivation via targetting miR-145.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jun 26;40(6):BSR-20180226_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20180226_EOC.
    PMID: 32579210 Free PMC article. No abstract available.
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    16

    Expression of Concern: The protective effect of PPARγ in sepsis-induced acute lung injury via inhibiting PTEN/β-catenin pathway.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jun 26;40(6):BSR-20192639_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20192639_EOC.
    PMID: 32579209 Free PMC article. No abstract available.
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    17

    Expression of Concern: VCAM-1-targeted and PPARδ-agonist-loaded nano micelles enhanced suppressing effects on apoptosis and migration of oxidized low-density lipoprotein-induced vascular smooth muscle cells.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jun 26;40(6):BSR-20200559_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20200559_EOC.
    PMID: 32579208 Free PMC article. No abstract available.
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    18

    Expression of Concern: Combinatorial approach of in silico and in vitro evaluation of MLH1 variant associated with lynch syndrome like metastatic colorectal cancer.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jun 26;40(6):BSR-20200225_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20200225_EOC.
    PMID: 32579207 Free PMC article. No abstract available.
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    19

    Expression of Concern: The mechanism of hsa-miR-424-5 combining PD-1 through mTORC signaling pathway to stimulate immune effect and participate in type 1 diabetes.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jun 26;40(6):BSR-20193800_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20193800_EOC.
    PMID: 32579206 Free PMC article. No abstract available.
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    20

    Expression of Concern: MUC1 gene silencing inhibits proliferation, invasion and migration while promoting apoptosis of oral squamous cell carcinoma cells.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jun 26;40(6):BSR-20182193_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20182193_EOC.
    PMID: 32579205 Free PMC article. No abstract available.
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    Page 3

    21

    Expression of Concern: Circular RNA hsa_circ_0072309 inhibits non-small cell lung cancer progression by sponging miR-580-3p.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jun 26;40(6):BSR-20194237_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20194237_EOC.
    PMID: 32579204 Free PMC article. No abstract available.
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    22

    Expression of Concern: Fingolimod inhibits proliferation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in sacral chordoma by inactivating IL-6/STAT3 signaling.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jun 26;40(6):BSR-20200221_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20200221_EOC.
    PMID: 32579203 Free PMC article. No abstract available.

    23

    Expression of Concern: Protective effect of Asarum sieboldii essential oil on ovalbumin induced allergic rhinitis in rat.
    Biosci Rep. 2020 Jun 26;40(6):BSR-20191370_EOC. doi: 10.1042/BSR-20191370_EOC.
    PMID: 32568382

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